Scripture: “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
– Mark 12:30-31
This passage of Scripture calls for us to Love God and Love People, in that order. This is an important observation because we sometimes:
- Mix up our priorities
- Neglect our love for people
- And sometimes forget both of them
When we don’t put into action Loving God and then Loving People, in that order the results speak for themselves. Jesus is found in the House of God speaking to the Scribes – a religious group of folk who were fixated on finding fault with him. In context, verses 38 – 40 tell us that this group of religious leaders were more concerned about their posture, clothing, traditions, reputation, greed, sitting in places of influence and being seen by men rather than having their hearts and minds transformed and realigned with God’s purpose by the living words of Jesus. They were so blinded by their religion that they weren’t able to see the Truth standing, speaking, teaching, healing and breathing in their midst. Consumed by their tradition they assumed that God would deliver his people in a different way rather than using a “blasphemer” and lowly carpenter from Nazareth – therefore, they missed God moving and doing a new thing altogether.
The implications of mixing up our priorities, neglecting our love for people or forgetting to do both of them (Loving God and Loving People) can be seen in our culture today.
Mixing Up Our Priorities
We mix up our priorities when we Love People more than we Love God. This practice manifests in a number of ways. Here are a few limited examples:
- God’s standards are replaced by the cultural standards of those we love. Our perception becomes jaded and darkened with idioms, ideologies and practices that are built on sinking sand and not the rock of the Gospel.
- People become our Savior. At the very best people can save others from certain circumstances but at the very worst they don’t have the ability, power or authority to save men’s souls from hell. In effect, when we Love People more than we Love God we establish them as our kings, prophets and idols. They speak on our behalf and give us direction for our lives. They occupy the thrown of our heart and God doesn’t take pleasure in being 2nd in line to the thrown – He’s a jealous God. He’s a God who breaks and exposing idols for what they are – limited in love, perfection, mercy, grace, function and not having enough authority or power.
- Sacred becomes Sacrilege. So now, what was called sin is now patted on the back in the form of empathy, mercy and love. Now, what was deemed holy, right and moral is now backwards, old fashioned, out of touch and even discriminatory in practice.
violation or misuse of what is regarded as sacred. – sacrilege definition
Neglecting Our Love For People
When we Love God and not people the the mission of Jesus is limited to our inability to be about the Great Commission and our Father’s work within the Earth. We become so heavenly minded that we are no earthly good. We lose touch with the spiritual needs of the people we are called to serve and live with. More, one could argue that a person who love’s God and not people can’t Love God.
If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. – 1 John 4:20
This idea of not loving people is contrary to the believer’s new nature (2 Corinthians 5:17). Your new nature in Jesus Christ should produce new desires that point back to Jesus. Jesus’ whole mission was to do the will of his Father, connect sinners to God through the forgiveness of sins and then to commission those forgiven people to go make disciples. And in that process we are called to love one another and those who don’t know Jesus as Lord and Savior.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. – John 13:34-35
But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you… – Luke 6:27
Forgetting to Love God and Love People
A question must be asked when we forget to Love God and Love People, are you saved? Again, we are called to love God with all of our being – body, mind and soul. Meaning, it’s going to take work on our part. Sometimes loving God flies in the face of conventional wisdom and cultural norms. Sometimes loving people calls for you to go the extra mile or to sprinkling our conversations and attitudes with grace. Once we’ve gotten our relationship with God right our relationship with people will fall in line. God will continue to work in us, for our good and his Glory. And once he begins a work, he’ll finish the work.
Questions For Spiritual Formation
- Do you Love God the way you say you love him?
- Do you Love People the way you say you love them?
- Does your love for people, within the context of Biblical Truth, extend beyond your prejudices?
- Are you saved (The Romans Road To Salvation)?