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Keep Calm and #truthbeatslove     From My Utmost for His Highest

. . . strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men —Acts 24

Chambers mentions that Jesus’ “commands are difficult. But they become divinely easy once we obey.”

I’d like to look a little closer at how obedience to God in things that are hard can ever become easy. Every fiber of our culture tells us that liberty and freedom is being able to do whatever we want and that rules serve to control us.  Consider this excerpt from A Rooster Once Crowed:

How can we connect our hearts’ greatest love to fuel our obedience to the truth that Jesus affirmed?

First, notice how Jesus, in perfect wisdom, provided answers specific to [the lawyer and the rich young ruler], but also gave the same answer. The answer was to obey out of your love. Jesus told them to obey in the big things and to obey in the small things, but also to obey in the circle of things that each man considered impossible.

Both men were disheartened, because they were focused on themselves and didn’t see the others around them. When their obedience was fueled by their own needs, the level of obedience Jesus demanded was impossible. But when obedience is fueled by love, this type of obedience becomes a pleasure.

Let’s look just below the surface in the parable of the good Samaritan. The priest was headed away from Jerusalem into Jericho. The road is a 17-mile descent of about 3,300 feet—from the highest point in the area to the lowest point then known. It is treacherous and signifies a walk from heaven into hell. If the priest had touched that man, not because of nationality but because of his open wounds, he would have become ceremonially unclean. Since the ceremony would have happened in Jerusalem, it is not clear what relevance becoming unclean actually had to the priest, but it would have put him out of service for a period of time. The same goes for the Levite, but here, we’re given no indication whether the Levite is ascending or descending. He is just going.

Their role within society is critical for these two characters. They were seen as the manifestation of piety and religious duty—their actual job was to serve God. If they were coming and going—whether ascending to or descending from Jerusalem—it was implied that they were in service to God, and yet their service lacked any love for this man.

How many times have I been en route to a Bible study and passed someone homeless or stranded on the side of the road? Does my obedience drive my love or does my love propel my obedience?

Said another way, in my heart, does the Law give me a way to prop up what I really love, or does my love push me to greater service through obedience to the Law? One leads to burnout, comparison, hatred and standing outside of your father’s party, cursing him. The other may look to the world like the same thing but, instead of obedience diminishing you, feeling like a chore, or draining you, it becomes a spring of love that replenishes—a veritable fountain overflowing with water that runs through the streets and quenches the thirst of a city.

When the lowly Samaritan comes, everything changes because, “he felt compassion.” He picked up someone that hated him and sacrificed his time and his provisions for this stranger. He proved to be a neighbor.

The Samaritan’s truth beat love—his truth, obedience and the law of his heart didn’t run on rules and wasn’t built to sustain another set of hidden loves. His truth was powered by his love. To the lawyer, Jesus’ request, in that moment, was impossible. The lawyer’s hate for his neighbor was so great that he couldn’t even say the name Samaritan—he called him, “the one who showed mercy toward him.”

Sa-ma-ri-tan. It’s pretty easy to say, but his truth beat a hatred so strong or he’d grown a pride so large that he couldn’t even name the hero of this parable.

The rich young ruler, who Jesus loved, got his answer—a true answer, which was evidence enough that his truth beat luxury or wealth or security or significance. In the presence of the Lord of the universe, he chose his stuff.

I’ve been there and I can tell you, when you get back home and look around at all that things you put in front of Jesus, it all looks like junk, anyway.

EXCERPTED FROM A Rooster Once Crowed: A Commentary on the Greatest Story Ever Told, Chapter 8—Truth Beats Love (pgs. 113-115). AVAILABLE FORMATS are linked at Full Porch Press.

I can attest that those things that look hard in the beginning, do become easy. And the things I hold onto provide no peace when the rains come.

I love you.


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