Jesus revolutionizes our understanding of love. Love and obedience are found tied up into relationships such as between a father and a son, a husband and a wife, and a servant and a master. Many relationships suffer loss due to repeated disobedience. The husband, for example, lays down a set of instructions which, when ignored by the wife, breeds tension between the two. The tendency is to place love in the condition of obedience.
Meaning, ‘if you do such and such a list of things, things will be okay in our relationship.’ Jesus flips it around. The scripture says that He has first loved us. He has done everything possible to prove His unconditional love to us by demonstrating it at the cross. Now, in our relationship with Him, obedience is expected of us. But again He says that the measure we will be able to obey Him is only as much as we love Him.
The more we love Him, the more we care to do what is pleasing to Him as revealed in His word. So when we hear a preacher preach on how obedient we should be to Christ and so on, it has no meaning if He does not encourage us to love Jesus, because only a lover can obey in the way God requires. So we should pray that God fill us with love for Christ and that in our hearts, all other affections diminish except that which is for Jesus.
Lesson: Obedience without genuine love is “religion.” Obedience that stems out of genuine love is “relationship.” The latter is pleasing to God.
It is dusted away humorously that there is two kinds of theology, one being ‘prosperity theology’ and the other being ‘poverty theology.’ There are mainly two kinds of Christians, one category who believe in acquiring more and more wealth because they believe God has blessed them in Christ to be wealthy, and the other group believes that in order to follow Jesus, they should have no bank accounts and not have wealth because Jesus loves poor people.
Both of these groups are two extremes and they both can become legalistic when they refuse to budge or find a balance. On one hand, we have needs to be met and everybody aspires for growth in order to give a good standard of living to their family and children. On the other hand, this can get idolatrous if we ignore our kingdom responsibilities to make wealth. Jesus makes it clear in the scriptures that our real treasure is eventually what we did for God.
So in our pursuit for wealth, we should remember that eventually God’s kingdom should be of higher importance than our personal bank balances. We should consider others in their needs and consider giving for gospel work, and this, according to the Bible, is a responsibility, not a suggestion.
Lesson: Heavenly treasure is our eternal possession. Earthly treasure is for our earthly need. We have to find the right balance between the two in proportion to our faith.