Sunday April 19 our own Steven King passed along a great message in our Sunday morning series on Living a Mature Faith. His topic was “From Mental Assent to Lived Experience.” He did a great job of showing us how we are (and always have been) prone to make complicated the purity and simplicity of Christian spirituality. If you weren’t able to join us Sunday, I encourage you to give his message a listen.
I was trying to think about ways to summarize the “bottom line” of Christianity being about “the art of living (and loving).” Here are some attempts:
- Jesus’s brother James said that pure and faultless religion is about caring for orphans and widows who are in need. (James 1:27)
And, he asserted this active faith: I will show you my faith by what I do. (James 2:18)
Or as a poster on a friend’s wall says it:
What we really believe we do, the rest is just empty rhetoric.
- Early Christian teacher Paul said…
… the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. (Galatians 5:6)
… these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (I Corinthians 13:13)
…the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:13-14)
- A friend of mine who is a rabbi remarked often that if you found the very center of the Torah (Books of Moses), you would find this central and pivotal teaching: Love your neighbor as yourself. (Leviticus 19:18)
- Jesus said…
… our love for one another will prove to the world that we follow Him (John 13:35, NLT)
… All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments: Love God and Love others (Matthew 22:35-40)
Simple, right? We humans have always found ways to make it complicated. Steven illustrated this with medieval church self-help books about how to die a good death so one can be more likely to see the face of God upon their death (see The Art of Dying (Ars Moriendi), 15th century). The instructions were quite complicated and protracted.
Thankfully, sticking with the purity and simplicity of His message, Jesus tells us if we want to see the face of God, not only at our death but even in some way now, we simply (though not always easily nor without sacrifice) take care of those who are struggling to take care of themselves. (Matthew 25:34-40)
Simply put from my favorite show: to love another person is to see the face of God. (Victor Hugo, Les Miserables)