Yes! There Is Good News!
Bill Rollins has been publishing each week a column in the local Elk Horn, Iowa paper for the past several years.
Note the original publication date on each blog post
Note the original publication date on each blog post
We’ve been considering, what I have called, the prime directive given to us from God. And we have come to see that Jesus labeled the words from Deuteronomy 6:5, “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength,” as the greatest commandment (or prime directive). I’m not sure we’ll ever get anything closer than that.
But how do we attain that directive? It is my belief that this command to love God is a life-long goal for us. When you put together the heart, which in Hebrew is understood as our feelings, thoughts, motives, aims and will; the soul, which basically means a “breathing creature” and refers to the essence of life; and strength, which is easily understood as power; we have a complete picture of who we are. This may sound overwhelming at first but as in any journey, it starts with a single step!
So, what if I told you that this first step is as simple as obedience? But is obedience really all that simple? Yes, it can be! Take for example, “You shall not steal.” Is it difficult for you not to steal from another person? Is it difficult for you to logically consider that some tool, sitting in the middle of the shop floor when no one is around, really belongs to someone else?
The laws that God gave to us are for our own good and the good of society.
Stealing, lying, murder and adultery, etc. cannot be permitted if a society is to survive. But how does this apply to our love for God?
I’m glad you asked!! In John 14:21 Jesus says, “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father and I too will love him and manifest myself to him.” He goes on in verse 23, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my words. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our abode with him.” To bring this down to everyday life; what parent wouldn’t feel the love of their children in their obedience to the rules mom and dad placed upon them – always coming home at curfew time, being honest about the company they keep, mowing the lawn without having to mention it more than once. Oh! Perhaps I’m talking about an ideal world!! But I think you get the point.
God delights in our obedience. God blesses us for our obedience. Our Father in heaven and His Son, Jesus Christ want to abide with us!! How amazing is that!! The God of all the universe, Creator of all things wants to have us near Him!! Friends and brethren, I get goose bumps just thinking about it.
This prime command that we are looking at is not unlike the first commandment, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.” Let’s take a look at what it means to have no other god before Him.
In our last article we were considering the topic of a “prime directive” for our lives. We first came upon the idea of the resurrection from the dead as fitting the bill. But really, this is the result of that which should be a directive for us and not the directive itself.
Perhaps we should define what I mean by this terminology. I mentioned that I had learned the term from the old TV show, Star Trek. As they set out on their journey they were given a “prime directive” from the powers that be. It took precedence over all other instructions.
The word “prime” comes from a Latin word meaning “first.” And in English we define it as “first in time, rank, authority, quality, or importance.” For our purposes, we will be looking at “first in importance.” For the word “directive” Webster tells us it is “a general instruction or order issued authoritatively.” Putting this together, we are looking for an instruction from God that is given to us and is the most important!
Wow!! This could certainly be a tough task – but let’s dig in!
This past June, I wrote a series of articles concerning being “wholehearted” in our serving God. And as I sit here I am wondering if this most important directive has anything to do with God wanting us to be wholehearted in something – let’s take a look!
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” This directive from Moses to Israel is found in Deuteronomy 6:4-5. This is more than a wholehearted love. It is also an “all your soul, and all your strength” love. These words carry a lot of weight.
They carry so much weight that when Jesus was asked by an expert in the law, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus quoted this very scripture in Deuteronomy. And when He finished quoting it, He said, “This is the first and greatest commandment.” (Matt. 22:37, Mark 12:30)
Well, that wasn’t so hard was it? Jesus said it was the first (prime) and greatest commandment (directive). And here I thought it might take a couple of articles to get there. But maybe we should take some time and consider what it means to love God this way. In the book of Luke, we have this same scripture quoted from Deuteronomy but this time, it is from the mouth of a scribe who asks Jesus what must be done in order to inherit eternal life. Jesus turns the tables on him and asks him what he thinks the answer is. The scribe replies with this same scripture and Jesus responds with these words, “You have answered correctly. Do this and you will live.” (Luke 10:25-28)
Wasn’t it last week we were looking at the concept of resurrection – to have life eternal? We will have to look into this in the next article. Until then, think about what it means for you to love God with all that you have – the result is “good news.”
It seems that the sci-fi movie genre today is mostly about comic book heroes and Star Wars. But when I was younger, the big news in television sci-fi was Star Trek. Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock moved on from saving the world to saving the galaxy – heady stuff in those days.
Like most things these days, I have forgotten the details of their adventures, but there is one thing that has stuck with me all these years: they were given a commission to explore “strange new worlds” and to seek out new life forms – kind of like a future Lewis and Clark expedition! But they were also commissioned with what was called a “prime directive.”Those two words have embedded themselves in my memory.
Do you have a prime directive today? All of us have directives and visions and dreams that we either follow closely or fantasize about. One of the dreams from my younger days was to build a straw bale house. Now that I am older and not as physically capable, this dream has shifted into the realm of fantasy.
Ah, but what about those things which are first and foremost in your mind? Well, as a parent, you must have the directive to provide for a family; not just financially, but also mentally, emotionally and spiritually. That is an extremely important concept. There are many more that I am sure we could think of and share.
But what about in our spiritual lives? Someone may say, “I am not concerned with things spiritual.” I am sorry for you. If it is only for this physical life that you strive then the Apostle Paul has a word for you, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” (1 Cor. 15:32) How sad!
Paul’s comment here deals with those who say there is no resurrection of the dead. Hmmm!! Could this be a “prime directive” for us, being raised from the dead? Paul spends an entire 58 verse chapter in 1 Corinthians on this very subject. The bible tells us that death is an enemy and even an atheist will agree with that. A loved one dies and we are filled with sorrow. And yet our true “loved one” died – yes He died for us that we may live – and He was resurrected from the grave, sits at the right hand of the Majesty on high, and is looking forward to spending eternity with those who have a faith in His saving power. It is in the death of this One that we rejoice. “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You trust in God, trust also in Me. In My Father’s house there are many abodes, if it were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may abide where I am.” What a promise!!
Let us take a look at this directive again and see if it is the “prime directive” we might be searching for. Until next time remember, in Christ we have good news!!
Bill Rollins resides in Elk Horn, IA, with his wife, Sally, and has pastored the Church of God of Omaha, NE for more than 35 years.