“… [Jesus] said to him, “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. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40)
…You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a dedicated nation, [God’s] own purchased special people, that you may set forth the wonderful deeds and display the virtues and perfections of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. (1 Peter 2:9 AMP)
… He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. (1 John 4:4)
“Focus on the fundamentals” is a tried-and-true maxim in sports, business, music, and virtually every other human endeavor. Until you get the fundamentals down, nothing will work the way it is supposed to work.
What then are the fundamentals of Christian life? What is the fundamental moral requirement? What is our fundamental mission? What are the fundamental truths we must embrace?
The fundamental moral requirement of Christian life is agape love: selfless, serving, unconditional love for God, family, friend, stranger, and foe. I addressed this more fully in my July 30 column, “Agape Love is the Christian ‘Litmus Test’”. The key word here is requirement. If we do not have agape love, flawless doctrine and tireless service and correct political stances mean nothing and gain nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)
We must also remember that we do not love the Lord by simply saying or singing that we love Him. (1 John 3:18) Jesus says those who have and keep His commandments are the ones who love Him. (John 14:21, 23)
The fundamental mission of the Christian life is to show forth in this broken world the love, goodness, and will of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. (Matthew 5:14-16) We are the Lord’s witnesses and the expression of His Kingdom on earth, called to make disciples of all people groups regardless of where they live or what they look like. (Acts 1:8; Matthew 28:19-20; Revelation 1:6)
Please note how this fundamental moral requirement, often called “the Great Commandment”, and this fundamental mission, often called “the Great Commission”, go hand in hand.
If you love someone, friend or foe, the most important thing you can want for them is to know Jesus and receive everlasting life. If they already know Jesus, you want them to know Jesus more so they can follow and serve Him better.
And if you attempt to disciple or witness Jesus to people without having and showing love for them, you will fail every time.
The challenge of listing fundamental truths has been dividing the Church for almost 2,000 years. All I can offer are the biblically confirmed truths I have found essential in my faith walk and witness to others:
(1) There is one eternal God who relates to us in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God created and sustains all creation. His knowledge and power are greater than we can comprehend.
(2) God is a revealing God because otherwise we could not know Him. He reveals His majesty and power in creation. He reveals His character, will, and purposes in the Bible, in His faithful intercessions on earth, and most completely in Jesus. If we claim to understand God without honoring biblical authority, we are “making it up” and creating a god or gods in our own image.
(3) God is perfectly good. Evil is everything that opposes or seeks independence from God and His goodness. Evil separates us from God, who is the Source of life and blessing, and therefore leads to death and destruction.
(4) God’s goodness cannot ignore evil, but the heartbeat of His goodness: perfect agape love, cannot ignore our condition of separation and death. He sent His sinless Son, Jesus Christ, to die for the sins of all humanity, and then resurrected Jesus in victory over sin and death, making Him King of Kings with all authority in heaven and earth. This opened the way for all human beings to have a restored and everlasting relationship with God, but only if they choose restored relationship by renouncing independence from God, repenting of their sins, and trusting Jesus as Savior and Lord.
(5) God restores His relationship with us through the incredible gift of the Holy Spirit, who comes within us to join with our human spirit. (1 Corinthians 6:17) Since the Holy Spirit is God, God now lives within you, and you have become His “born of the Spirit” child forever.
(6) Jesus intends to reconcile all things in heaven and earth to Himself. (Colossians 1:15-20) We are each called to join Him in that glorious mission.
My friends, do your lives focus on the fundamentals, or are other things getting in the way?
God bless you, and God bless our community.