“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” This was one of the questions asked of Jesus by the Pharisees in Matthew 22… of course the religious leaders never really cared to hear his response when they asked him anything… unless of course it would happen to be something something they could arrest him over. Too bad they didn’t really listen to his response because it would have changed their lives… the answer of course was… love. Boiled down – his response was… Love God. Love People.
I look back at my life and I realize how often I have missed this teaching and failed in following it. I don’t have the same motive as the pharisees did of course but I have missed it all the same so many times. I let so many things get in the way and I make so many excuses…
Time. Time is absolutely the biggest excuse I find myself using. “There’s not enough time in the day and I’m too busy: to love others; to pray; to read scripture; to check in with someone who is hurting; to spend time with friends & family; to open up and share the struggles I am having; to listen to the struggles someone else is facing” … In reality time is a big problem with Loving God and Loving People… But not in the way I use it as an excuse… In truth though I’m too busy TO NOT do all of those things!
Fear. There are times when stepping out in Love – I have gotten hurt. Maybe you have too? Ever heard that phrase “no good deed goes unpunished?” Man that feels so true sometimes. Love is messy and it is impossible not to get messy when we engage in it. Love calls us to take risks… to take chances… to be vulnerable… Make no mistake… Love is not always a walk in the park. Opening our hearts to it invites not just the unimaginable joy that it brings but also the potential to be hurt so deeply that we are brought to our knees. But if we believe that God is more powerful than anything we face – hurts included – then – well, we have nothing to fear.
Apathy. This one is the most dangerous of all for me… And it is heavily tied to both the time and fear excuses. Eventually – if you let yourself stay too busy – and you refuse to step out in love over fear of being hurt – apathy sets in… Essentially where your brain just starts saying – “Screw it. I don’t care.” And when this sets in – it is so hard to change direction.
Where do you find yourself today? Right now. Are you someone who says – “I’d like to get involved at church… join in a Life Group… help out a friend… bein the lives of my neighbors – but I’m just too busy and I’m afraid if I commit to one more thing I’m gonna drop one of these balls I am juggling.” If so – look out… eventually apathy sets in. It’s the brain’s way of dealing with the feeling of overwhelmed-ness… It can’t resolve the fact that there is too much to deal with – so the path of least resistance is to just quit caring.
My challenge to you is the same challenge I pray over everyday for myself to help deal with all of those issues… “God hear these 3 prayers…”
1. Stretch Me. Take me places outside of my comfort zone God and move me where you want me. Make me uncomfortable and use me! It’s a great cure for my perceived lack of Time – because I am putting God in control and He somehow always works it out…
2. Break My Heart For What Breaks Yours. Don’t let me close my eyes to the world around me and pretend that everything is fine. Let me experience the true felt need of your people – those who know you and those who are still missing from you. Asking for this one requires us to absolutely step out of Fear.
3. Heal Me and Heal The Issues You Have Opened My Eyes To. What does His healing look like? How do you believe God can heal the hurting and the broken? If you truly desire this for others – you can be certain you are not living in Apathy. Desiring to see people better – in their lives, their circumstances, their hearts and their relationship with Jesus – requires a truly caring heart.
Now – if you have prayed those prayers with me. What is your next step? Here’s a hint… The answer is not “sit and wait and for God to write it in the sky.” The answer has everything to do with you … with me … taking steps towards Him! Break the chains that hold you back. Believe that you are too busy NOT to pray and NOT to love. Step out of fear and take a chance! Reach out and love someone around you – allow your heart to break for what is breaking theirs… And ask God to heal and ask Him how you can be used by Him in that process of healing.
If you just prayed all of that – and meant it … Welcome to the journey and the danger and the adventure. God is going to take you places you never dreamed.