Love God – Love People…Could it really be that simple?

“What the world needs now, is love – sweet love.” At least that’s what the song says. Why bring up a crappy song for a serious discussion…because the song is amazing! Seriously, why you gotta hate on the classics?

Love God – Love People. Could it really be that simple? That is the question I pose for you. In my life experience as well as my leadership experience I have found that we as humans have this way of making things more difficult then they need to be. This seems especially true in the church. Ahh yes the church – that splendid place where we find our quest for relevance and accuracy being lost in the pursuit of growth – essentially neutering our own potency leaving us flaccid and ineffective. That’s right, I said flaccid.

Now sure, the realities and mysteries of God are deep and profound to where we will always have the opportunity to go deeper and God willing swim in the unknown depths of who He is – but who ever said deeper means more difficult?

If the greatest command is, “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind” – and if the second is like it, “love your neighbor as yourself” – then what the heck are we doing?!

Maybe I really am just a simpleton, but I don’t see in scripture Jesus trying to trick us. Although it would be funny, He doesn’t do it…that there be the devils work! I see Jesus making it simple. Simple truths that have depth that we continue to discover as we surrender all who we are and follow The Leader. (I’m talking Jesus here)

Here is the sad reality. We live in a country the provides much freedom and the church as a whole continues to decrease in number and effectiveness even with the freedom to do pretty much whatever it wants. (which is part of the problem, but that’s a different discussion)

Do you ever ask yourself why? Why do people not come to church? Why is the church declining? It can’t all be because of crappy music, and lack of vision. My hunch is that most people don’t even ask that one question of why because they are oblivious to the realities of need around them as they rest in their own comforts an security of four “holy” walls…and the truth is we all do it in varied degrees.

The reason, I believe, is because we lose focus of the simple (yet deep) truths that rest in those four words. Love God – Love People. We lose sight of the audience of one.

In our hyper real – pop culture saturated world we forgo the basic simple truths we are called to for a consumer mindset that slowly eats away at the soul like a ravenous slug. Why a slug…cause their icky.

All that to say, “what the world needs now – is love – sweet love, it’s the only thing that there’s too little of”!

So what do you think? Could it really be that simple?

Discuss.

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5 thoughts on “Love God – Love People…Could it really be that simple?

  1. Just to keep things simple…Merriam Webster outlines no fewer than 10 acceptable definitions of the word ‘simple’, including such meanings as innocent, modest, naive/credulous, sheer/unmixed/fundamental, free from elaboration, unconditional, and readily understood. Some readily apply to Christlikeness, some may apply, and at least one is strictly prohibited. Naive/credulous is right out (see Matt 10:16 re: shrewdness of snakes). Innocent and modest are in good order, seemingly unarguable. The other definitions are where the posited simplicity of the faith may not be so simple. The word implies that something should be one one piece, unelaborated or complex. After all, the word derives from the Latin for “having one ingredient, plain.” And part of me wishes to embrace a plain, uncomplicated faith driven by love for God and others. There ought to be a childlikeness to faith, a ready willingness that is unencumbered by complex theological permutation. Perhaps faith ought even to be readily or easily understood. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, but the straightforward directive to engage in love-driven behavior is certainly a focus too often lost amidst all the other church-stuff we do.

    Interestingly, Merriam Webster suggests the reader also see “easy” for relevant synonyms of the word “simple.” Here, I will not readily go. In terms of faith/love/Christlikeness, ease has never been a hallmark or my, or others’, experience (See D. Bonhoeffer’s non-existent work “The Ease of Discipleship”). Some aspects of faith are easier than others depending on the day, but rarely have I found it easy or even pleasant to do many of the things my faith commitment has required (or should have required). Maybe loving will be easy for me someday when I am really much holier than I am now (or when all the people I know or will ever meet are just like I want them to be). Then again, maybe even on our last days on this earth we will end up sweating blood and praying for relief from the calling in the face of the things we must do in order to love God and others. Maybe some days faith is simple, maybe some days it’s a bit exhausting and mind-bending and costly. We are called to be like Christ regardless.

    On this side of death, the church tends to be plagued by complexity. Maybe that’s sin, maybe that’s human, maybe that’s richness and challenge. I tend to like it that way, but complexity addicts like me can always use a reminder about the value of focusing on the core of our calling.

  2. Funny you bring this up. Recently South Side gathered a group of leaders (40 or so) and charged them in one weekend to develop a new roadmap for our church. Part of that was a mission statement. Our previous one was long, cumbersome, and basically useless (because no one knew it). Four groups went into two sepearte rooms…three came back with this: Love God, Love People. We are now trying to incorporate those four words into the fiber of all we do…

  3. “we forgo the basic simple truths we are called to for a consumer mindset…”

    And so we have the downfall of Westernized society. I think that’s one of the most profound, yet simple things I’ve ever heard you say and I absolutely couldn’t agree more.

    In my recent quest for a new place to plug-in and serve, I’ve visited so many churches and totally run the gamut on styles. I’ve been to the “old school, ultra-traditional” and the contemporary “anti-church church”. Two things keep flooding my mind: 1) I’m reminded of Rick Ruble in Worship class constantly reminding us that “The pendulum can only swing so far before it has to come back.”; and 2) they all think THEY have the answer to making growth happen in today’s church and that somehow this answer is in the midst of all THEIR fluff! If you’re focus isn’t to “Love God, Love Each Other”, seriously…what are you doing?

    I’m big into Chinese medicine and a more integrative approach to health and healing. My main reason being that the focus of Chinese medicine is to get to the root of the problem by correcting the imbalance in the body that’s causing it. For the most part, Western medicine takes more of a treat-the-symptom type of approach. Same analogy with the church…if you “treat the symptom” and focus on your personal worship style and all the innovative things you can do to bring people in, have you really addressed the key issue? We are called to love God and to love people. THAT is what God blesses. THAT is where balance is achieved because THAT was the original design.

    Thanks. I’ve been wanting to rant about that for a while now…

  4. I think if it was that simple we would be Jesus. But we are selfish animals most of the time. Maybe a simplified goal. But attaining it impossible. I am coming to terms with that. I have been beating myself up for a long time because of my shortcomings. But I need to remind myself if I really truly mastered Jesus’ teachings I would truly be Christ like. But I’m not, I never will be. It’s an unattainable goal. I should call myself a wanna be Christian. Haha Don’t get me wrong my desire is to exude that Love. Baby steps? A microscopic step in the grand scheme of things. It’s overwhelming.
    Just rambling sorry.

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