Sermon: Our Relationship with God: 7/20/08

21 07 2008

Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  ‘This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

 

 

                                                            Matthew 22:37-40

 

 

 

            This morning we begin a new series of sermons.  The theme of these sermons will be relationships.  Our Relationship with God.  Our Relationship with Our Christian Family.  Our Relationship with Our World.

           

Now you know when I decided that I wanted to preach on these themes the first thing that I needed to do was to find a section of the Bible that actually talked about Our Relationships.  And as I thought about it one section of the Bible kept coming back to me again and again.  It is the 22nd Chapter of the Gospel of Matthew.  But before I read it to you, let me just tell you a little bit about what was going on.

 

            The 22nd Chapter of the Gospel of Matthew begins with Jesus telling the Parable of the Wedding Feast.  Now I am not going to read this parable to you.  If you are interested, I would advise you to read the whole story in the 22nd Chapter of Matthew.  Suffice it to say that Jesus’ purpose in telling this parable is to make the Pharisees and the Sadducees look bad.  Basically Jesus is telling the people that the Pharisees and the Sadducees are not going to be a part of the Kingdom of God.  As a result of this they get together and decide that they are going to do something about this Jesus.  They pick a couple of guys – brilliant men – and send them to Jesus with the intent of making Jesus look stupid in front of the people.  They come up to Jesus with some trick questions – questions that no matter what answer you give, another person can argue against your answer and make you look foolish.  One of these trick questions is: “What is the Greatest Commandment?”  Jesus answers the question in this way:

 

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  ‘This is the first and greatest commandment.

 

            This is the passage that I would like to look at, because I think in Jesus answer to the Pharisees He answers our question – What is Our Relationship with God to be like..

 

            This answer of Jesus always intrigued me.  Wouldn’t it have been enough to say that we should love God?  What’s with this heart, soul, and mind thing?  Well, I actually did some research on that and this is what I found.  I found out that Jesus’ answer was actually a quote from the Deuteronomy 6:5.  And to understand the answer you have to understand something.  For a Hebrew the heart was the very center of our personality.  The heart was who we are.  The soul was a part of that heart and it is what gives life to the body.  It is what makes you move – live – breathe.  And the mind was the part of us where our thoughts, ideas, convictions arise.

 

            Then there is something else to keep in mind.  The repetition of the word all.  Jesus says all your heart – all you soul – all you mind.  Not just a part of your heart – a part of your soul – a part of your mind.  Not just the biggest piece of your heart – the biggest piece of your soul – the biggest piece of your mind.  God wants it all.  He wants everything.  He wants all of your heart.  All of your soul.  All of your mind. 

 

            One Bible commentary puts it this way:

The word “all” in the three phrases receives great emphasis because of its very repetition.  God will have no mere part, allow no division or subtraction.  Not even the smallest corner is to be closed against God.  The whole heart, the seat of our personality; the whole soul, our being itself; and the whole mind, the entire activity of our being is to turn to God in love.  And this is to be done because He is God.

 

            So what is Jesus saying about our relationship with God.  He is saying that what God wants from us is everything.  Not a part of who we are.  Not the majority of who we are.  Not the best of what we are.  He wants it all.  He wants to be our Number One.  He wants us to put Him first in all things.

 

            The problem with even the best of us is that we don’t do that.  So often what we give God is our 2nd Best – Our Leftovers.  We will come to church unless there is something else more important going on.  We will support the work of the Kingdom but only once we have taken care of all the other things in life.  Certainly no one can argue the importance of Bible Study or Prayer Time unless those happen on the same evening as my Bowling League.  So often what we give God is our leftovers.  Which is kind of sad when you think about it because he has given to us all of His heart – all of His soul – all of His mind.  He did that when He entered this world as the child of Bethlehem.  He did that when He laid His life down on a cross.  He did that when He rose again on Easter Morning.  He did that when He gave us the promise that He would be with us always.  He gave us His all.  And sadly we give Him only a part – and sometimes not even the best part.

 

            So what does God want me to do?  OK here it is – as simple as I can put it.  In fact I carry this card in my wallet to remind me.  It says:

 

Each and every day I will strive to…

 

            PRAY daily

            WORSHIP weekly

            READ the Bible

            SERVE at and beyond Zion Lutheran Church

Be in a RELATIONSHIP to encourage spiritual growth in others

            GIVE of my time, talents and resources

 

If I do these things that I can truly say that I have the love the Lord my God with all of my Heart, with all of my soul, and with all of my mind.

 

Amen!

 

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