It’s hard to sum up Christianity with just a sentence or two, but how would you do it if you had to?
We might be tempted to define it by what Christians don’t do, or at least what we shouldn’t do—we don’t cuss or sleep around or get drunk or hurt people—but that description is terribly inadequate.
Or we might lean toward describing it in terms of religiosity—outward signs like how frequently we attend church or how much we put into the collection plate. But it wouldn’t be too hard to find big givers and regular church attendees who don’t act much like Jesus at all.
As with everything, Jesus gets right to the heart of it all.
And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall 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: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions (Mark 12:28-34).
Jesus goes all the way back to the early days of Israel to find the wording for the most important command: Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.
It’s short, concise, and memorable. And earth-shattering. And all-consuming.
Jesus includes everything we could offer to God, and then some. He says that discipleship means giving everything. Everything we have. Everything we are or will ever be.
He’s not interested in getting you to sit in a pew for 2 or 3 hours on Sunday.
He doesn’t want your fifteen minutes of quiet time every day. He doesn’t want your 10 or 15% in the collection plate. He’s not even focused on your avoiding the Top Ten Worst Sins. No, he wants it all.
He wants your worship and adoration. He wants your time and money. And he wants your heart. Especially your heart. God wants you. He knows he can get a big chunk of your time but not have your heart.
He can get your money and worship and keep you away from the bars and the brothels and still not have you. But that’s what he wants. Sometimes people ask, “What do I need to do to get to heaven?” But I think that’s the wrong question.
When we really understand the gospel, when we really get it, when God really gets us, we ask, How in the world can I withhold anything from a God who loves me that much?