Psalm 146; Mark 12: 28-34
Pearl: Getting closer and closer to the heart of God’s reign
Function: To nudge worshippers closer to the heart and soul of Jesus Way by seeking anew to practice loving God and loving neighbor
Isn’t it fun playing “Hide and Seek” with your children or grandchildren? It has to be an all-time favorite for everybody! Youth groups love playing variations of Hide and Seek in church buildings! Think of all of the hiding places.
Another related game that we play with each other is “Hot and Cold.” You hide something and give another person or persons the task of finding the item. As they search you say warmer or colder based on how close they are to the item.
- Are you a good “finder” of things in your home or office? Or do others have to play the game “Hot and Cold” to help you find things?
- In the life of faith in Christ we are constantly either warmer or colder in proximity to the reign of God.
- We wander all around in all kinds of ways moving closer and getting further away in proximity to the Way of Christ.
Followers of Jesus Christ, to borrow from Robert Frost, “have miles to go before sleep.”
This Scribe who approached Jesus with his marvelous question was told by Jesus: “you are not far from the kingdom of God”…he basically told him you are getting warmer…warmer!
- Jesus approved of this scribe.
- Most of Jesus’ meetings with the Scribes were not so positive and exhilarating. Usually Jesus butted heads with the Scribes.
- This Scribe went up to Jesus and posed the question: “Which commandment is the first of all?”
- I think it safe to say that Jesus liked the question. Often questions reveal something about those who ask the question. Jesus sensed something in this particular Scribe. This question allowed Jesus to say straight up what was at the heart of God’s reign—God’s kingdom: Loving God with all that you have and loving your neighbor as yourself. Jesus gave a full and robust answer to the Scribe’s question.
- The Scribe liked Jesus’ answer and in turn amplified Jesus’ answer with his own re-stating of Jesus’ answer.
- It was likely one of those kinds of moments between people who are having a deep dialogue and you both say the same thing in your own words in order to really get a handle on the concepts being discussed. And you realize that you understand each other and are on the same page and that the page that you are on is awesome!
- A light turned on for the Scribe. It was a transforming moment for the Scribe, and for Jesus.
- It is interesting how the Scribe commended Jesus for his answer. Jesus could have responded with some snarky remark at how the tables were sort of turned between teacher and student. The Scribe did not comprehend the breadth of who Jesus was. So he commended Jesus for his answer.
- Jesus complimented the Scribe. In one of the very few positive exchanges between Jesus and the Scribes Jesus told him: “you are not far from the kingdom of God”…you’re getting warmer…warmer!
- So just what was it again which led Jesus to say that you are right on the border of the kingdom?
- It was the notion that “what all life is about” is loving God with everything you have and loving your neighbor as yourself. This is the very heart of living life in the flow of God’s Way.
How many miles do you have to go before you sleep? How close are you to the kingdom of God in terms of loving God with all that you have and loving your neighbor as you love yourself?
What can you do to get closer? Is there a practice that you could take up again or for the first time to move you further into the kingdom?
- A young 18-year-old English lady affixes notes on the Wearmoth Bridge in Sunderland, England. She puts laminated messages at the middle of the span of both sides of this bridge where jumpers often take their own lives. Out of love for neighbor her mission is to dissuade people from jumping. Here is a sampling of her messages:
- Fight with all you have, tomorrow is always a better day.
- Even though things are difficult your life matters; you’re a shining light in a dark world, hold on.
- You have a powerful story to share.
- You have the power to say ‘This is not how my story ends.’
- If you end it now you will be so deeply missed.
- Look how far you’ve come and then keep going.
- This isn’t how it ends.
- Your matter; you’re loved; and people would be worse off if you died.
- This young lady was given a commendation by the local community and police force for her awesome efforts. At least 6 people credit her notes for saving them from suicide.
- She is so beautifully practicing the love of neighbor which is the heart of the kingdom of God.
- Take up a practice with the goal of being transformed…changed somehow by God through the practice.
- Approach what you are already doing with a new depth. Look at and actually see the person you are with.
- If you are a writer then ask Jesus to help you to better love him and love your neighbor through your writing.
- I am asking him to do this through my preaching. “Help me, Lord, to love you more and to love my neighbor more through my preaching.”
- Use something that you are already doing and renew your approach to that practice. Ask Jesus to help you better love him and love neighbor in what you are doing.
- As a parent ask God to help you to better love your children as a parent.
- You young boys and girls can love your neighbor. Mrs. Meute told me how the other day she noticed a 9 year old boy was with his family and he noticed a US Marine nearby. He asked his parents if he could go over to him. They agreed. He went over and likely thanked the Marine for his service. The Marine said something to him and reached out and shook the hand of the 9-year old boy. This young boy loved his neighbor by honoring and thanking that Marine.
- As you once again review your discipleship in this season of generosity and stewardship, think about how you might better love the Lord with all of your heart, all of your mind, and all of your strength and your neighbor as yourself.
Very likely, we all have many miles to go before we sleep but hopefully we are getting warmer…hotter all the time.
In a few moments we will be very warm as we go to the Table of the Lord. There is something about that Table which puts us on the very border of the kingdom of God.
All are welcome; all are invited to cross that border to dwell forever in God’s realm.