Run towards God and He will correct our imbalances. Then we will know how to love God AND love others.
The Command: Love God and Love Others
The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both. – 1 John 4:21(MSG)
I remember a time when I was a kid working on my math homework and was completely beside myself trying to understand how and why the numbers did what they did. I could do the math, I could process the rules and get the right answer, but I needed to wrap my head around what was actually happening. I’ve tried to do the same thing with my faith.
Keep It Simple
The idea of God being a Trinity is a confusing thing. But when we engage the simplicity of it as relationships it becomes something more tangible and applicable. We know that God the Father loves the Son and the Son loves Him, and He loves the Spirit and the Spirit loves HIm, and the Son loves the Spirit and the Spirit loves the Son too. God created us in His image and He made more than one human so we could actually love like Him. We were designed to have a loving relationship with God and others, and others were designed to have a loving relationship with God and us. We were meant to reflect the relationships inside the Trinity. At the simplest level, we are to love God and love others.
Transformed not just Transmitted
So, if that’s what we were created to be, and that’s what Jesus called us to, shouldn’t that be our focus? For many years, either because I was told it or because that’s how I interpreted what I was told, I thought the point of Christianity was simply to make it to Heaven. I thought that what happened here only mattered as far as it affected where you would be transmitted when you died. Not until the past few years did I realize that the point was actually to be transformed, and going to Heaven was simply the final transition in that transformation. The whole point has been for us to be transformed into the image of God, restored to His image, to once again love God and love others as He loves.
But if this simple expression of Christianity is what it’s all about, why does it seem like it isn’t changing anything? Why do we have huge churches that seem powerless to change the world around them? I think the reason is because we have forgotten what it’s all about and have tried to do things without God. We can’t love like God without God. We consistently put ourselves first instead of letting God define us. We have depended on strategy and good business practices to propel the church forward, instead of relying on God to do it. There’s nothing wrong with strategy or being smart and creative, but they become wrong when we use them as the source of power. Does the Christianity you see around you seem like the same thing experienced by Jesus’ disciples?
Run To, Not Away From
We tend to either make Heaven such a focus that we have ignored our world, or we have made humanity and our world such a focus that we have ignored God. This isn’t unique to us. Every generation faces this struggle and, unfortunately, tends to respond to the issues they discover by running away from them. When we see that we have been too human-focused we run away from it to become heavenly-focused. When we see that we have become too heavenly-focused we run away from it to become human-focused. Instead of running away from the errors, we need to run towards the solution, which is God. We need to run towards God and His image which propels us to become both heavenly and humanly focused. Run towards God and He will correct the imbalance. Then we will know how to love God AND love others.
Previous: Part 2 – Boxes
Next: Part 4: coming soon
Evan Oxner is the author of Let’s Be Blunt : What’s Really the Point of Christianity? and the lead pastor at Amherst Wesleyan Church in Amherst, Nova Scotia. He insightfully explores questions about God and life in much more detail in Let’s Be Blunt. Find more about Pastor Evan Oxner, his book, and the free study guide at www.evanoxner.wordpress.com.