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Series: Reckless Love
Sermon: A Firm Foundation
Text: Mark 12:28-34
Rev. Laura Brewster
Introduction. This Lenten Season, we are going to talk about foundational principles upon which we are to build our lives as followers of Jesus. Please note that much of this material will be drawn from a presentation made by Rev. Tom Berlin at our annual conference meeting last year.
The Most Important Commandment. Jesus said the most important commandment was “… love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” This was drawn from Deut. 6:6-7 and was included in a prayer known as the Shema. Jews were to repeat this prayer every night and morning. They were also to recite it to their children and write it on the doorways of their respective homes. Keeping this law also reaffirmed and protected their relationship with God.
Lent is a great time to hear this foundational command anew and ask ourselves: Am I fully loving God? If not, what has gotten in the way and needs to be reprioritized or jettisoned? Conversely, do I need to undertake another spiritual discipline – like daily Bible Study – in order to strengthen my relationship with God?
A Second Command. Jesus went on to say: “The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” It can be hard to love even those family members, friends, co-workers, classmates and neighbors who like what we like, look like we look, vote like we vote, etc. Loving others is challenging because they are not perfect, and we are not perfect. Yet, Jesus makes love of others a foundational principle for us, so we are obligated to try.
Lent is a great time to look within ourselves and determine if we are becoming more loving. If not, what has stood in the way? What is keeping you from loving others as much as you love yourself?
Growing In Love. If we confess and repent, we will find God ready to offer us forgiveness for how we have failed to love in the past. But here’s an important question: after I accept God’s forgiveness, how do I keep the sins of resentment, jealousy, etc. from taking up residence in my heart all over again?
- We’ve already touched on the first part of the solution – we can take part in spiritual practices that help us grow in love for God. As we grow in love for God, God will help us become more loving, kind and patient. This will aid us in our relationships. So, committing to practices that help us grow in love with God is essential.
- But equally essential is making the commitment to act and react in love. Growing in love for others will not happen automatically. We must intentionally commit to speaking, acting and reacting in a manner that shows love.
Challenge. This week commit to showing love for God or love for a specific neighbor in a concrete manner. Perhaps you might commit to reading your Bible each night to grow in your relationship with God. Or, perhaps it might be offering an olive branch to a friend with whom you’ve had disagreement. Determine what you will do this week to show love. Write down one word that summarizes your commitment and place it in a location where you will see it daily. Offer it as your sacrifice to the Lord of Love.