The First of the Two Greatest Commandments

             In Matthew 22, some men ask Jesus about the greatest. Jesus’ reply is that the first is “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” The second is “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Even today in modern American culture, the second resonates with people of all faiths and even those with no faith. Variations and paraphrases of the second greatest commandment such as “treat others how you want to be treated” are posted even on public school walls. The first commandment however, makes some people’s stomachs churn.

            At first glance, this commandment may seem unreasonable. In fact some people get indignant about the fact that God is commanding His children to love Him with everything. Love God with our entire hearts, minds and souls? Love God above everything? Not only is it a commandment but it is one of the two greatest commandments according to Jesus. Many nonbelievers and some believers are skeptic of this commandment. Commandments like “you shall not murder,” “you shall not steal” and “you shall not bear false witness” make sense even to nonbelievers. But what kind of God tells His people to love Him with everything they have and worship only Him? Some may say only a dictator style God would. I believe it is a God that always has our overall wellbeing at heart.

            God’s commandments are not simply a bunch of rules. God is not sitting in Heaven waiting for each one of us to mess up and then zap us with lightning. Nor did God give us commandments in order to ruin our fun. His commands serve their purposes and whether we want to admit it or not, He always knows best. In cases like “you shall not murder,” the purpose is somewhat obvious. Sometimes these purposes are not quite as clear though, especially to nonbelievers or even those new to the faith. Like His other commandments, this commandment about loving God with our all serves a very important purpose. God knows what we need. He knows that we will try to fill our hearts with everything from money to fame to relationships. None of these things are inherently bad but when we obsess over them, we will only be left feeling empty in the end. When we chase after things of this world more than the One who created them, we are always left hungry for more. We end up always wanting the newest gadgets, recognition for every good and/or successful thing we do, the hottest significant other…the list is as long as the ocean is deep. These things will not and cannot satisfy us though. Only He can. Jesus said “… whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14).

           With this commandment to love God with our all, God is leading us and showing us the way to avoid the deep pain that comes from when we depend on the things of this world and they fail us. He knows that all the things of this world will fail us at some point or other. He’s telling us to cling to the One who lasts forever rather than the things in this world that are fading faster than we may care to admit or even realize. We still have the choice to choose Him or to reject Him. Like any choice there are consequences. If we chose the things of this world, we will be left empty at some point or other. If we choose Him, we will find joy beyond our imaginations.



Lives Matter

When we have our hopes set on the Kingdom that is coming, it is easy to believe that this life does not matter. Our lives here in this world are but a grain of sand on the shore of eternity. Nevertheless, our lives (and what we do with our lives) do matter. Sure, we are not truly home yet. Our real home is Heaven but that does not mean our work here does not matter. Think about it. In this life, we have earthly dwellings we call home. Yet much of the work we do in this life occurs outside the home. And this work outside the home impacts our life at home. As a college student, I consider it like this. A student might leave their earthly home to attend college. (I did not but this is just an illustration). He or she is technically just passing through college for four years (give or take) of their lives. It’s not a permanent situation. Still, what he or she does at college matters. I’m not just talking about grades either. While grades do serve their purpose, college is more than grades and GPAs. It’s a place to explore, grow, make friends, and pursue interests. Whether I like it or not, what I choose to do in my college years (academically, socially, activity wise, etc) will impact the rest of my life in various degrees.

This is a worldly example so just imagine how much more this is true in a spiritual manner. We are passing through this life. God has given us jobs to do as we pass through. God would not give us these lives without purpose. Ephesians 2: 10 states “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” God made us how He made us for His purposes. We don’t always follow His will and way but we are here for a reason.

Imagine if the disciples had not done what they did. Imagine if they had not preached and served and recorded the gospel. They were all humans like us and what they did matters even now. Sure, much of what we do right now may not matter a whole lot sometime in the future. But when we do what God has called us to do, we can be sure that He wants us to do it for a reason. We may not even understand how our actions and words may influence someone or something. I doubt the writers of the New Testament thought that people in an area of the world they had never heard about (the Americas) would be reading it and living based on it some 2,000 years later.

Of course, the amount of pain and suffering in this world is overwhelming. Our actions appear so small in comparison. Sometimes we become numb to all of the evil and pain in the world. We’re bombarded with stories of violence, disasters, suffering and more each day through the media. If we feed a hungry person on the street, bring one person to Christ or encourage one brother or sister, it seems like just a drop in the ocean.

If we help one person though, isn’t it worth our efforts? God sent His son into the world to save us because of His great love for us. He knew that many people would still not love Him back even after the ultimate display of His love for us at Calvary. He also knew however, that the sacrifice would be worth it because of those of us who do believe and love Him back.

As I reflect on these ideas, my mind comes across this video. None of us can help everyone but we can all help someone.

So let us continue to walk with Christ and do what God has called us to do even though the hurt in this world is overwhelming. Let us remember that our actions, big and small, do matter. We have these lives for a reason.


For so long I’ve been complaining about circumstances, especially circumstances related to living a life of faith.

I live in New England…which although it’s beautiful, it certainly isn’t the Bible belt. I’ve been here in Massachusetts my whole life. I go to a very secular college. There are very few people who even consider themselves Christians. At Bible Study, we’re lucky if we have 4 students come. I haven’t been feeling really comfortable at church for various reasons. In addition to all of this, I’m dealing with friend problems, anxiety, and other struggles of life.

No matter where we reside, growing closer to God is hard. Satan attacks us with all he has. Sometimes it feels impossible for me to grow closer to Him when the places I spend my time are so far from Him. But still, I am here and I’m obviously here for a reason. I need to stop blaming my circumstances. I’m living in a dark place but that doesn’t mean that God’s light is extinguished. God is still here. God is in every dark place where one of His children calls upon His name.

I’m here for a reason. I’m in this state, at that school, at that church for a reason. I don’t plan to be in this state or church for the rest of my life but I’m here now. I want to make the best of it. I want to learn what God wants me to learn. I want to grow closer to Him even in the darkness and be a light in this dark world. God’s got a plan. I don’t know it yet, but I know He has one for every moment of my life.