The first three gospels all report variations of the incident in which Jesus is asked what is the greatest commandment. If we were truly obedient sons and daughters of God, there would be no need for anything else to be said. We would have no need for the other more specific commandments. Love God and love man sums up everything.
The Command to 'Love God' is at root vague and ambiguous. How are we to love God? Is such love something we feel? How many of us have read the words 'with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength,' and not felt that perhaps our love for God is not filled with the all-consuming level of devotion that Jesus spoke of. The practicality of it is hard to get hold of.
It is surprising at first approach to the Commands of Jesus to discover that the command to "love" is not the most frequently given injunction to fall from his mouth. But it is surely the most pivotal and central command laid upon his followers which summarizes and incorporates and draws up into it all his teaching, and all the Commands.
This is truly the first of the Commands. Its importance is self-evident. The nature of a command requires obedience. A "command" is not a "suggestion." A command is a command. Obedience is compulsory. And yet...there remains such a thing as disobedience.
From The Commands by Michael Phillips. Read by Michael Kimball. More information on this and similar writings may be found at Father of the Inklings. Visit Amazon to purchase The Commands and other books by Michael Phillips.
Throughout the Gospels, Jesus urges obedience to his Commands in many ways and with a great variety of words, phrases, metaphors, and parables.
What is the "fruit" we are to bear as the Lord's disciples? How will our lives "glorify" God the Father?
The debate is long standing in Christendom about what exactly "sanctification" is and how it comes about.
It was not until after much reflection that it slowly dawned on me what an intriguing and perhaps prophetic word this is from the mouth of Jesus.
The image Jesus is alluding to here is familiar from many sermon illustrations. The farmer guiding his single plow behind donkey or horse or ox desires to plough a precisely straight furrow from one end of the field to the other.