The observant among you will have noticed that plastered to the top of this post is a video. This video is the first ’60 Second Sermon’ from Lewis, a good friend of mine, as he gets his Sofa Sermons channel up and running. I decided to write this post as a way of engaging with what Lewis is saying and allowing you guys to engage with it as well, as, in my completely unbiased opinion, he’s had a great idea with this channel concept, and he has some really important things to talk about in his videos.
So before you go any further with this post, watch the video.
Have you watched it? Good.
Here’s the passage that Lewis is concentrating on: “Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: ‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law?’ Jesus replied: ‘“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’ (Matthew 22:34-40)
As Lewis is saying, those two commandments are really meant to apply to every aspect of our daily life, and that can seem like a pretty big ask. Love God with everything? And love your neighbour as well? Flip. Lewis goes over what that can practically look like, and it essentially starts with meeting the needs of those around you. The way I see it, the love mentioned in the Bible is a very practical thing. It is not simply a feeling, it’s an action. Love gets things done – it fundamentally meets people’s needs. The greatest example of this was Jesus on the cross, saving us when we had no way to save ourselves.
As Lewis has covered the ‘what’ of these commandments, I want to cover the ‘why’. Why does Jesus ask us to do something so difficult? I have a two-part answer to this. The first part is that it’s because following those commandments is the best, most fulfilling way to live. Following those commandments is what human beings were made to do. And the second part is that he can ask this of us because he gives us the strength to do so.
I believe that the Bible teaches that we were made for community. Community with God and each other – that’s why the image of the church as a body with Jesus at its head is so important. This dynamic, action-based love of the Bible is the glue that holds that body together. It started with Jesus’s sacrifice that actually brings us close and binds us to him, and then it continues with us returning that radical love, and also showing it to each other. In an ideal human community, we are all selflessly meeting one another’s needs. This is not draining or deflating in the way that complete selflessness is sometimes thought to be, rather, everyone’s needs are being met as they meet other people’s needs. It’s like a network of powerful, meaningful action that leaves everybody satisfied.
But even this ideal vision is nigh on impossible for us to achieve alone. Thankfully, we can echo Paul’s statement that he can do all things through Christ who gives him strength (Philippians 4:13). Christ’s love didn’t finish at the cross, it continues, and as part of that we can continually rely on him to give us the strength to do what we can’t accomplish alone. He can give us that push to do things that we would never have been able to do on our own. He can give us the courage to meet needs that we never would have gone near before. Christians don’t believe in a distant God. He’s always near, and he is always looking to help us do the great things that he has put in front of us.
I think these commandments are a challenge to all of us as we go about our daily lives, but I hope you’re also encouraged that we are never left alone.
And if you haven’t done so already, subscribe to Sofa Sermons to see more of what Lewis has to say!