It’s hard to get a handle on the Christian life. It’s just so big. Take, for example, my last three blog posts. Reflecting on a recent experience in Rwanda, I focused on the reality of ultimate evil, the power of the gospel of Christ, and the imperative for each of us to take action in our broken world. Pretty intense! Each of those themes is huge by itself. Add in countless other themes of Christian faith, life, and mission, and it’s hard to know how to respond or where to begin.
Thankfully, God gives us a way forward. He gives us the “super-themes” of the Christian faith and life. Super themes get us moving when we are stuck, because they always apply to every issue or situation, big or small. They are relevant to every discussion, anything from deep theological reflections, to figuring out the best practical approach for hands on ministry. A super theme works like a bright light, cutting through the fog of complexity, illuminating issues, ideas, and even our own hearts – putting things in proper perspective.
Love is a super theme of the Christian faith and life.
Want to move forward as a Christian? Focus on love. Want get practical and make a difference for Christ? Focus on love. Want to know God, walk with him and serve him? Focus on love. Not sure where to start or what to do – TODAY? Focus on love.
Jesus identified love as a super theme for Christian discipleship when he answered the question about the greatest commandment. Here’s what he said:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
(Mat 22:37-40 ESV)
In his answer, Jesus revealed that the super theme of love has a two part shape: love for God and love for neighbor. This is the same two part shape revealed in the Old Testament, in the Ten Commandments – the first 4 focusing on our relationship with God and the next 6 focusing on our relationship with our neighbors.
Christian love requires more than personal emotions or opinions; it has a particular shape to it. God has carefully defined what that shape is. He maps it for us – in key passages of the Bible, and in the life and ministry of Jesus.
Last week we started a new series of teachings at River West Church: Love Takes Shape – Jesus, Love, and the Ten Commandments.
Many of the posts to come will dive deeper into this super theme of the Christian faith and life.