April 7, 2016
19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
NOTE TO READERS: You’ve noticed by now in the last few days my consistent referencing of John Wesley in these reflections. Wesley wrote thirteen sermons on the Sermon on the Mount. (More than on any other subject or text) They are masterful works. We appreciated them so much that we decided to publish them in a single collection. It is entitled, “Thirteen Discourses on the Sermon on the Mount,” and is available on seedbed.com.
There is a deep inner logic running through the whole of the law. Though there be many commandments, there is only one law undergirding them all. If we can but grasp the singularity of this law we will be destined for true greatness. If we fail to grasp it we will fail utterly.
The inner logic of the law? The singularity of it’s intent? It is the union of two incredibly complex yet comprehensive words: Holy Love.
There is a way of practicing these commands in the name of “holiness” that eviscerates the meaning of love.
There is a way of setting these commands aside in the name of “love” that eviscerates the meaning of holiness.
To “be holy” in the true sense of the word means to belong exclusively to God. To “be love” in the true sense of the word means to belong extravagantly to others. One is not possible without the other and to err on one side or the other is to err completely.
This is the meaning of the expression used to describe the Son of God in the first chapter of the Gospel of John: Full of grace and truth. (John 1:14) This is the beauty of holiness- the perfection of the love of God and neighbor. This is nothing short of nor nothing more than the Mind of Christ. It is the very Glory of God.
This is not a place one arrives at through long study and learning. This way of life with God and neighbor is a gifted place that comes through surrender and submission. We are all for being saved by grace through faith, but it will mean next to nothing unless it leads to loving God and others by grace through faith.
There is no true greatness apart from real goodness. Goodness grows as we live into the commands of Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit. Read very carefully this poignant comment from John Wesley’s take on this text.
We must cry aloud to every penitent sinner, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved.” But, at the same time, we must take care to let all men know, we esteem no faith but that which works by love (Gal. 5:6); and that we are not saved by faith, unless so far as we are delivered from the power as well as the guilt of sin. And when we say, “Believe, and you shall be saved;” we do not mean, “Believe, and you shall step from sin to heaven, without any holiness coming between; faith supplying the place of holiness”; but, “Believe, and you shall be holy; believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall have peace and power together. You shall have power from him in whom you believe, to trample sin under your feet; power to love the Lord your God with all your heart, and to serve him with all your strength. You shall have power “by patient continuance in well- doing, to seek for glory, and honor, and immortality”; you shall both do and teach all the commandments of God, from the least even to the greatest. You shall teach them by your life as well as your words, and so “be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”(Thirteen Discourses on the Sermon on the Mount p.100)
The inner logic of the law is the very gospel itself: Holy Love.
Sola Sancta Caritas! It means “Only Holy Love!”
1. Have you witnessed a way of so-called holiness that has very little if anything to do with love? Describe that.
2. Have you witnessed a way of so-called love that has very little of anything to do with holiness? Describe that.
3. What would it mean to cease pursuing greatness in the eyes of others and instead pursue goodness for the sake of others?
4. Do you want to grow in the love that is holiness and in the holiness that is love? What does more surrender and submission to Jesus look like for you today?
J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. email@example.com.