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Click here to read Matthew 7 on BibleGateway.com

“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”  Matthew 7:12

compicatedFor most people, the goal for most communication is to keep it simple.  Short sentences, little words, keep Latin to a minimum, etc.  But anyone who’s been in a corporate or higher education environment will know that is not always the case.  For some baffling reason, administrators like to make things sound more complicated than they really are.  You never hear the word “money,” it’s always “resources.”  People don’t “talk,” they “dialogue about the issues.”  You don’t plan, you strategize.  You don’t have a meeting, you network with personnel resources. You don’t eat a donut, you process wheatified carbohydrate energy configurations.

Why do people do this?  In a word, to hide.  If you say “all I did today was browse facebook and look up movie references on Wikipedia,” you’re probably not going to be employed very long.  But if you say you were “networking with industry benchmarks and applying business principles to cultural norms,” then you might just be in line for a nice comfy office.  We complicate things to avoid taking responsibility.  It starts way back in the Garden: “did God really say….”  Perhaps if we muddy the waters a little, there might be a loophole or two.

THE SIMPLE LIFE

The truth is, the Christian life is not nearly as complicated as we pretend.  Jesus summed it up in 2 sentences: Love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength; Love others.  There is a growing movement in the Church today to just focus on these two rules and forget all the other commands in the Bible.  There’s some validity to this, but we need to ask ourselves a question – if these are the only two commands we need to follow, why did God put all the other ones in there? Maybe because he knows us.

When a teacher of the law asks Jesus about which commandment is greatest, Jesus tells him the simple two.  Case closed, yes?  Notice the next thing the man says: “in order to justify himself, he asked ‘but who is my neighbor?'”  If we can draw some distinctions between this neighbor or that, then maybe we won’t have to really do those pesky things like giving one of our coats away, or paying all of those business taxes.

So God expands the two rules to help us.  Don’t know how to Love God?  How about putting him first, keeping his name holy, remembering the Sabbath, and not making any idols? Confused about how to love your neighbor? Don’t murder, steal, lie, or covet.  And since we tend to look for ways out with our own families first, honor your parents and be faithful to your spouse.  Only 10.  Not too shabby.

YOU HAD ONE JOB

But then people ask again. How do I honor my parents?  How do I honor the Sabbath? So, God reveals more details – don’t harvest on the Sabbath, provide financially for your parents in their old age, and so forth and so on.  Now we’re up to 617-ish rules.  And people complain about how there’s too many rules to remember.

We always want to know more details.  Unfortunately, sometimes we spend so much time studying the rules not because we want to know how to serve God better, but because we want to find loopholes and get to heaven.  For example, we try to say we don’t have to give financially to ministries anymore, because “Jesus set us free from the law.”  Let’s say hypothetically that’s true; if we go back to the simple commands, what is the best way to love God and love our neighbors?  It’s fairly obvious that being generous will be part of that.  So yes, Jesus  frees us from the Law, but if we follow the two basic commands, we’ll probably end up following them anyway.  It’s only when we try to find a way to get around the Law that a problem arises.

Today, rather than ask yourself “do i really have to…” to be saved, look at your thoughts and actions and ask yourself “does this show love to God or my neighbor?” If you can’t say yes to your choices, then maybe the problem isn’t all the rules that God gives us.  Maybe it’s just that we don’t want any rules at all.

After all, Adam and Eve only had one rule.

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