What would you say is the most important item of obedience that parents can teach their children? Think back to what you were taught as a child. Maybe it was, “Wash your hands before you eat”? How about, “Don’t speak unless spoken to.” Then there was the ever important, “Never talk to strangers.” Or what decent house could live without this one: “Don’t talk back to (a.k.a. ‘sass’) me.”
I suppose there are a myriad of different possibilities. What was the number one commandment in your house growing up? Though I’m asking the question, I’m not sure what I would come up with, but some people would definitely know – their parents drilled it into them all of their days. And when a commandment rises to the top like that, call me crazy, but I think it says something about the parent.
We are known by our commandments, aren’t we?
And so, when Jesus was tested by a lawyer as to the greatest commandment of God, it’s fascinating that the Lord answered with two different commandments…of love.
First, love God.
And second, love each other.
How simple…and how beautiful. And surely it says a lot about Who God is, for the Apostle John wrote in his first letter: “God is love.” (1 John 4:16)
Think about it this way, when you get right down to the basis of Who our God is, what do you come up with? If you say he is the Creator, you’re right on the nose, but you do know that He wasn’t always that, right? Go back 20 trillion years – He was no Creator then. Well, then, what was He? He was Love. And here we begin to see the incredible importance of the Trinity.
Many Christians are under the unfortunate opinion that the doctrine of the Trinity is one of those things you’ve got to agree to when teaching about God; but when you do, you sort of cough and cover it up, like needing to admit that the strange man in the corner is your crazy uncle. Oh, but how sad this is, for the truth that God is Trinity is one of the most wonderful things about Him. The doctrine of the Trinity says that first, God is one, second, He exists in three persons (the Father, Son and Holy Spirit), and third, each person is fully God. Hard to understand? Undoubtedly…but most gloriously wonderful also. Here’s why:
You see, 20 trillion years ago the Father was still the Father, and do you know what He was doing? He was loving the Son through the Spirit. And the Son, of course, was loving the other two persons of the Trinity also. And so on… In fact, though we cannot say that God has always been creating, He has always been loving.
Compare the True God Yahweh to another god called Allah. Allah is considered eternal by Muslims, so we might ask what was he doing 20 trillion years ago? Well, it’s an imaginative question and I don’t know what Muslims would say, but they certainly can’t say he was loving. How could he have been? There was no one to love. Muslims, in fact, denounce the doctrine of the Trinity. So Allah cannot be love like the true God, and if you wonder what that would do to His followers, the Psalmist gives us a clue:
The idols of the nations are silver and gold, the work of human hands…Those who make them become like them, so do all who trust in them. Psalm 135:15-18 (ESV)
And what about those of us who follow the true God…the God who is love? Well, the One we worship in truth should change everything about us…
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:1-2 (ESV)
(For more on this topic, consider picking up one of my favorite books in recent years, Delighting in the Trinity, by Michael Reeves. It’s not stuffy at all, and will bring great joy to your soul.)
For Monday, February 2nd: Matthew 23