Loving the Creator
Loving what he’s created…
May 27th, 2019
Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37-39 (ESV)
He was quoting these two commands from the Old Testament scriptures. First and foremost, God takes top billing. Then Jesus says the second most important law is to “love your neighbor as yourself.” If you look up the reference for this, you’ll see that you are to honor your mother and father as a predicate for loving your neighbor as yourself.
Earlier in Matthew Jesus said…
“Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Matthew 19:19 (ESV)
Now let me add one more thing in the mix here for our consideration.
Looking over in Luke we see something shocking…
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.”
Luke 14:26 (ESV)
If someone were to randomly come across these passages or look at them casually, we might see conflict and discrepancy, but that isn’t what Jesus set forth here. Instead, when you carefully consider the order of things, context and the meaning of the words, there is a distinct order to our admiration from God to our parents, ourselves and others.
First thing, let’s take care of the reference to Luke 14:26. The Greek source for the word ‘hate’ is miseō. If you look it up, you’ll find that it means to ‘love less’. So, the first thing we want to clear up is that Jesus isn’t saying we need to despise our parents. In fact, we saw in Matthew 19:19 that we are to honor our mother and father.
What Jesus was actually expressing here in Luke is that we are to love God / Jesus above all others. If it comes down to our devotion to Jesus or dear ole mom and dad, our parents will get the short end of the deal. As long as no conflict exists then we are to do all we can while loving God first to honor them, and yes love them as well. This aligns with the first scripture we reference regarding loving “the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Jesus identified it as being the first and most important commandment.
Next in order
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
Ephesians 5:25-27 (ESV)
Marriage and the family are demonstrated to be extremely important priorities to God. I’ve never really seen this applied in this manner but I’m going to take some commutative liberty here and say that while Paul is talking about the husband’s relationship to the wife, the inverse is true for the sake of our ordering of love priorities.
Christ’s church was second only to his obedience and loyalty to God the Father. When he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus asked that if there were any way possible that this cup of suffering be avoided, but nonetheless, “your will not mine”.
His sacrifice was all about redeeming us for his church; his bride. Inversely, if we look at it from a wife’s perspective, her subsequent priority after God would be her husband.
Naturally, their children come into perspective as the next in sequence.
Some may take issue with what I will point out here, but I believe it to be the case due to demonstrated function in the scripture.
Our discussion to this point would rank our priorities as being:
As you can see in our pyramid of love, I’ve slipped our parents in under our spouse and children. The scriptural basis for this exists in
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
Genesis 2:24 (ESV)
If a man (or woman) is leaving his mother and father to become one with another then this sets the order of the relationship with the parents below that of the wife/husband. If this marriage relationship were not greater, then they wouldn’t have left home to begin with. To further bolster this marriage argument, keep in mind that God uses the union between a man and a woman as the model for the Church’s relationship to Christ Jesus. So, I think I’m on pretty solid ground here.
The self-loathing Christian
It’s interesting that we often based our theology on the songs we sing. I would have to imagine that anyone that has been raised in the church or had children growing up in the church knows the song “Jesus and Others and You”. As the song goes “J is for Jesus, he has first place”, O is for others we meet face to face”, and “Y is for you and whatever you do”. Then we put them together and spell JOY.
It is a clever children’s song but not so solid theology.
Sadly, many Christians have adopted this order of things as the appropriate order of priorities, when the reality as stated in in both the Old Testament and again by Jesus in the New is that “others” and “you” are lumped together. Matthew 22:39 says, “…You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (ESV) Not love your neighbor above yourself; “as yourself.” That is to say, don’t put yourself before others, but at the same time give yourself some consideration too.
Why would God say something like that? Aren’t we supposed to suffer for his sake? We will suffer, if we are sharing his light among mankind. They hated Jesus they will hate us, there is no need to hate ourselves.
The line is drawn here because we and others are both creations of God. Designed, engineered, planned out, by the Almighty himself, for a specific purpose in his grand architecture. We share this position with others. We are warned not to think more highly of ourselves than we ought to. But we are God’s creation.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Psalm 139:14 (ESV)
“Fearfully and wonderfully made”! We are, others are too. We sit on the same par in God’s creation.
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
Romans 12:3 (ESV)
God has placed an order to things, and we should consider this as we plot our priorities. “Loving the Creator”, means loving what he’s created. This includes others, but it also includes you, because his design includes you, for a purpose only he knows. He’s ready and eager to show you that purpose, we come even closer to understanding that by understanding the priorities involved in loving Him! He above all others, but we, along with others have a place in his priorities too.
The final thing I want to share with you is a perspective on the creator and us his creation. God IS Love! He created us in his image. As you muse about the loving order he has established for us, it should be clear he desires us to love in a similar manner to the way he loves; in his image. We really are meant to be a reflection of Him.
In the Grace of Jesus!
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