Based on: Matthew 22:34-40
When you make a table or you crochet a blanket you expect those things to be the thing you made them to be. You don’t expect them to start doing something you did not create them to do. If we created it, then we decide what that thing is used for. It doesn’t decide on its own. For example, what if the scrambled eggs you fixed this morning walked off your plate and told you, “I decided not to be your breakfast. Instead, I am going to deliver newspapers.” Once you got past the fact that scrambled eggs talked, you would start to realize that the whole world could suddenly become chaos as objects decided not to do the very thing they were designed to do. The pew as you are sitting in and could decide not to hold you up and you would find yourself painfully sitting on the floor. Cars, houses, books, streetlights, may all decide to do something other than they were created do and then and nothing in this world would be dependable. It would be impossible to live.
It sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? For the most part the things in this world do what they were created to do with one notable exception. We do not do what we were created to do. Jesus tells us what we were created to do. He tells us what God’s will is for the human beings he made, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and love your neighbor as yourself.” Let’s look at how love is the fulfillment of God’s law. Or to say it another way, love is the fulfillment of who we were created to be.
This command to love is not just something we find Jesus saying here in Matthew chapter 22, but Jesus himself says, “all the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” “The Law and the Prophets” is a reference to all of Old Testament scripture. We could include the New Testament as well. They say nothing different. Jesus’ statement means that whenever you find one of God’s commands in scripture, it is only a restatement or an example of one of these two commands. All of Scripture is in agreement that God demands for you to be what he created you to be – someone who loves God and loves his neighbor.
The reason God has a right to demand this of you comes in the first few words Jesus speaks, "Love the Lord your God." He is your God because you have a relationship with him whether you believe he exists or not. Even if you choose to believe in the false idea that we evolved from animals you cannot escape the truth that the Lord created you. As one of his creation you belong to him.
Our first love for which we were created is to love God himself. "Love and the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." That is pretty comprehensive, isn’t it? Jesus doesn’t say, "with your heart soul and mind,” but he emphasizes every part, “with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” So with all of who you are you are to love God all the time. Perhaps instead of heart soul and mind we could use the words emotion, will, and intellect. With your intellect you know exactly what God wants you to do. You know what pleases him and what does not please him. With your emotions you desire to please him out of love for him. Your emotions are perfectly pleasing to God all the time. Then you know what is pleasing to God you have the desire to please God and so with your will, the part of you that makes decisions, you always make the choices that are pleasing to God. That is what it means to love God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
Jesus was consistent in leading people to understand this. When the rich young ruler came to him and asked what he must do to gain eternal life, Jesus pointed him to the 10 Commandments. When this young man indicated that he thought he had kept all these Commandments, Jesus, knowing that he did not understand what it meant to love God, told this young man to sell everything he had, give it to the poor, and come follow him. Jesus was showing him that he failed this first command. He did not love God, but loved his money instead. The man walked away.
The second love for which we were created is to love our neighbor. This just follows from our love for God because it is impossible to love God and not love those whom God created and for whom Christ died. Jesus says to love our neighbor as our self. Notice that he never tells us to love ourselves, that just comes naturally. The problem is loving our neighbor in the same way that we love our self, considering his needs as equal to our own. The story of the Good Samaritan is a good example. Jesus makes it clear that loving our neighbor means that we will make sacrifices to help those who are in need whoever they are and whatever their condition.
As we look at Jesus’ words here, there are a few things that become clear. First, the more we think about what Jesus is saying here, the more we realize the overwhelming totality of this command. It says to love God with everything that makes you who you are and do it all the time.
Second, did you notice that Jesus doesn’t mention our outward actions? If our heart, soul, and mind are right with God, then the things we do with our legs, arms, and mouth will just follow as a matter of course. It is also true that if our heart, soul, and mind are not right with God then nothing we do is pleasing to God. (That is why everything the unbeliever does is offensive to God no matter how good it looks on the outside.)
Is all this starting to get depressing? Is it getting you down? Are you thinking, "I have fallen far short of what God has created me to be." If you are, then good. You understand what Jesus is saying here. You understand that on our own we have no hope of meeting this expectation to love God and our neighbor. Perhaps you also understand that if we don’t do what God created us to do God is under no obligation to keep us around. Instead, we deserve to have him send us away from him and his blessings.
Sometimes God has to jolt us out of our own and perception of reality and show us things from his point of view. That isn’t always pleasant for us but through the unpleasant experience we learn to appreciate even more the good news he has to tell us.
The good news is that the very same expectations that God had for us he fulfilled. We did not love God or our neighbor as we should and so God did it for us. God became a human being with a heart and a soul and a mind so that he could love God with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his mind. Even as a boy Jesus Christ loved God and when he was in the temple he told his parents, "didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?" Later in life he would say, "I love my father and I do exactly what my father has commanded me." Even on the evening before his crucifixion he prayed to God, "not my will, but your will be done."
God also became man in the person of Jesus Christ so he could be our neighbor. As our neighbor he loved us. When he looked at the crowds he saw them as God saw them, as so many sheep without a shepherd. He would put their needs above his own needs and at times even went without food or rest so that he could teach people the way of salvation.
His love of God and of neighbor even took him to the cross where God punished him. Think about that – this person, who is love personified, was punished for our lack of love. In this way, as he lived and died for us, Jesus fulfilled for us the love what we could not supply.
When we hear about that great love Jesus has for us, then the Holy Spirit does something. He works in us. The Holy Spirit uses that good news of God’s love for us and what God has done for us – how Jesus has fulfilled God’s commands for us, and the Holy Spirit creates in us a trust in God’s work for us. In essence he creates a love for God in us. Along with that love for God comes a love for our neighbor.
We could say that what God has created in us through faith is a re-creation of what God originally intended for us to be. Jesus told Nicodemus that we had to be born again and that is exactly what God does – he gives birth to us again. Now we will still have the corrupted, unloving part of us until the day we die, but now there is a part of us, that loves God and wants to please him.
What a loving God we have. In fact, God is love, isn’t he? Jesus points to love as the fulfillment of what we were intended to be. We were created to love God and to love our neighbor, but we have not done that. The more we study what that means the more we realize how much we have not done that. But, in love, God came to this earth and accomplished the love that was lacking in us.