This is the Advent devotional I wrote for the FOCUS churches this year. It had to be based on a particular Scripture lesson (Matthew 22:34-46), be of a certain length, and end with a prayer. For your convenience, I’ve followed the piece with the Scripture.
In the Scripture lesson, Jesus is being tested theologically. The religious leadership of the day is constantly trying to trip Him up, asking a bunch of questions. What IS the greatest commandment? To love God, and likewise, to love each other.
We are often tested trying to follow these dictates. Sure we may see ourselves as “good” and “nice” people. Maybe we go to church, quote Scripture. Do we REALLY love God with all our heart, mind, and soul? I think God knows that a mysterious and disembodied deity may be sometimes difficult to comprehend.
Fortunately, Jesus has equated loving each other with loving God. How are we doing with that presumably easier task? Yes, you may love your friends and family. What of that seemingly unlovable coot in the office, or that obnoxious teenager – love them too! How do we find the way to do THAT?
We follow the example of Jesus’ loving-kindness. We show patience and generosity. In what we do to the least of God’s people, we show our love to God.
In many ways, that is what the FOCUS ministries are designed to do. It’s not merely feeding people, which is a good and right thing to do. It is showing love. The peculiar thing about giving love is that one often gets as much in return as one expends.
May we share the love that we have received so that, by our words and actions, God’s love can reach those in need of that love.
34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Whose Son Is the Messiah?
41 While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, 42 “What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?”
“The son of David,” they replied.
43 He said to them, “How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’? For he says,
44 “‘The Lord said to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand
until I put your enemies
under your feet.”’
45 If then David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?” 46 No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions.
You ever taken a writing assignment, know what you’re going to write, then NOT write it, then end up knocking off something under the gun? I’m afraid thast’s PRECISELY what happened here. Wish I had written it right away. Ah, well, lesson learned (*or probably not…).