This was originally published May 14, 2010 on Facebook as a Note. But I publish it here, to help tell about my faith journey.
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As the readers of my notes know well, I like to meditate. So I thought I would share with you two major concepts from the scriptures.
These two concepts are in tension with each other. The reason they are in tension is because one seems to demand obedience and the other love. We should not interpret this to mean “obediently love,” because love really does not feel obligated to obey, yet love does feel that it has no other choice but to be faithful. But when one really loves, love transcends obedience, obedience cannot transcend love.
Here are the passages in tension: Ecclesiastes 12.13 and Matthew 22.35-40.
Yes, Jesus references Deuteronomy 6.5 and Leviticus 19.18, but the reality is Jesus transcended Solomon’s comment of “fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole of humanity.”
Jesus plainly claims that everything in the law and the prophets (for Christian’s that is 2/3 of the OT) depends on one’s love for God conjoined with one’s love for others with the love you have for yourself (Matthew 22.40). Jesus statement is at strong tension with Solomon because Solomon’s wisdom promotes healthy religious fear about the power of God and instills the religious duty to obedience.
As believers, we rightly conclude that Jesus statement of “behold, a greater than Solomon is here” refers to himself. (Matthew 12.42) With Jesus making this statement about Loving God and Loving People, he did not negate the importance of Solomon’s statement, he brought Solomon’s statement into maturation.
When I state the following some are going to draw the conclusion that I am stating that observation of ritual is unnecessary, but drawing that conclusion is untrue. It is just interesting to me that of all the things that Jesus could claim as primary – from confession to baptism, from believing to repentance, from worship to singing, or simply one’s love love for truth – Jesus did not choose those things. Jesus chose, said and claimed that the primary thing is: love for God and love for people. What does that indicate?
I have heard many lessons from many preachers quoting “obedience is better than sacrifice” referring to 1 Samuel 15.22 and “fear God and keep his commandments” to the conclusion drawn by Solomon, but Jesus IS greater than Prophet Samuel and King Solomon, Jesus appeals to Moses for “love for God and Love for Others” and within his ministry, Jesus appeals to Prophet Hosea’s statement of “mercy instead of sacrifice” Hosea 6.6, quoted by Jesus in Matthew 9.13.
It seems that it becomes all too easy to fall into the repetitive activities of the five steps and five acts, losing focus on the main thing: loving God and loving others because mercy is better than sacrifice (i.e. worship) in the end Peter knows that “love covers a multitude of sins” (First Peter 4.8) and James understands the concept “mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2.13).
What is my focus? What is your focus? What is our focus? Our focus is what we have concluded to be primary. Jesus is our master, our teacher, his primary focus IS to be my, your, our primary focus.
When one really loves, love transcends obedience, obedience cannot transcend love.
Yet, as I sit here proofing First John 5.2-3 was brought to remembrance. In Yoda’s Voice “A treasure trove of wisdom are the Scriptures.”