Big Idea: The Law of God’s Kingdom is to love.
One of the best inventions in the history of the world is dulce de leche. For the uninitiated, it is made by slowly cooking sweetened milk until you have a beautiful, light brown candy similar to caramel. All of the delicious flavors intensify and concentrate as the water simmers out, leaving something rich and delightful. Of course, concentration has many uses. The essential oils so popular for candles and diffusers are hundreds of times more potent than anything found in nature. A beef stew is slowly simmered for several hours to allow the juices to concentrate and meld. There is something powerful about encountering the essence of something so intensely.
What would you have if you concentrated the Bible? It wouldn’t be animal sacrifices or elaborate rituals; the New Testament tells us those could never get to the heart of the problem. It would not be holidays, which point to future events or remember past ones. So what is the essence? An expert in the religious law decided to try and trap Jesus by asking Him a version of this question: What is the most important commandment in the Law? Jesus told Him that the first is to love God with all of your heart, soul, and mind. The second is of the same essence: love your neighbor as yourself. Boiled down, the spirit of the Bible is love.
Once we know what to look for, we can see this clearly. The massive historical sweeps of the Bible tell the story of how we rebelled against God, but He never stopped pursuing us, ultimately to a cross. On the other hand, the legal codes of the Bible will be carried out by someone who loves. We do not murder those we love or steal from them, and we will not blaspheme or worship idols if we love God. In fact, these commandments are fundamentally the same, because it is not possible to love God without loving our neighbor made in His image, and it is impossible for us to love our neighbor truly until we have experienced the love of God.
For those of us in ministry, there is a convicting truth here. We can do the right things organizationally, in leadership, in teaching, and in any other area which you could choose to name. But if we do not love, we have missed the whole point. The Kingdom is based on the idea that God has loved us, so we ought to love Him and love each other. Everything good and holy is a manifestation of that truth.
Discussion Idea: How do you find it hardest to love God: with your heart, your soul, or your mind?
Prayer Focus: Thank God for His love and ask Him to help you let that love permeate everything you do.