Hearts for Christ
By John Bach
Our souls and bodies are broken, as Christ's body was broken on the cross. Our souls are redeemed in His most precious sacrifice, just as His body was resurrected. The Church is broken as our humanity is broken. The Church, through the power of the Holy Spirit, can transcend the brokenness of our humanity to love as Christ loved the world with that complete and full love only God can provide.
When Christians talk of "repentance," I fear that they are standing by with a checklist of dos and don'ts. I fear that they feel God has empowered them to decide what is acceptable behavior. I fear that they are being judgmental.
When I talk of "love" I speak of the love that Jesus Christ taught in His parables and His life and His Holy Sacrifice. God empowers me to love those whom I cannot love through my own strength. The Holy Spirit enables me to seek to live a "Christian Life" and to be a light in this dark and broken world. God opens my eyes to see the hope, potential, love, and caring all around me.
For me, the central message of the four gospels is not "sinner, repent!" It is "love your neighbor."
One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?"
"The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.'
The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."
"Well said, teacher," the man replied. "You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices."
When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.
It seems to me that when Christians make absolute statements about what God will or won't approve of, they are treading on very shaky ground. If we value only our "good works," and are afraid of associating with people who are not making the same decisions are we are, I fear that our works will become a burnt offering. God calls us to love others, not to place conditions, and certainly not to consider ourselves "more holy" or "less sinful" than another. We must place our confidence in God, and know that He knows our innermost hearts.
"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?"
Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."
--Matthew 22: 36-40
This familiar passage is not an aside; it is a central theme of the gospels. Jesus Christ came to earth to teach us how to love. Old Testament passages already brought this news to Israel, but the people were not able to hear it. The teaching of Jesus was based on the Law:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.
I know in my heart that God has blessed the work of the Christian Boylove Forum, and despite what Focus on the Family might say, we are doing His work. And yet, CBF is not to become a sacrifice in itself. And we are called to share this love and hope with others. With whom must we share our story? The following parable is so well known, perhaps we are not able to seize its real meaning. For me, it meant loving the members of my church-based support group more than I wanted to. It also meant taking risks on behalf of people who have opinions with which I may disagree. Unlike the verse in Leviticus, our neighbor is not only our own people, but all peoples to the ends of the earth.
On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
"What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?"
He answered: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"
"You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live."
But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"
In reply Jesus said: "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.'
"Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?"
The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him." Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise."
Continue to Part 2
Because the Holy Spirit is with us, we can boldly state that God has commissioned us to proclaim his Gospel message in a special way. We proclaim that message to the Church and to our fellow Christian BLs, as well as to non-Christian BLs and others. God calls us to challenge those within the Church, and those outside it, to love their neighbor--to love boylovers--as much as they love God.