Let’s explore Matthew 22:37-38 and delve into God’s word. As you open your Bibles or find the scripture, ponder this: How would you briefly describe the Christian life? Keep the answer to yourself. Now, what do you think God wants from us the most? If your answer is about moral loyalty, ethical behavior, or religious rituals, you’d be mistaken. The core of the Christian life can be captured in just two words. I’ll share them today. But just because it’s two words doesn’t mean our discussion ends quickly!
Alright, let’s be clear: that’s not our end goal. Remember these two words. When someone wonders about the heart of being a Christian or the real meaning of Christian life, here are the two words to tell them: Love Affair. You were made to love God, and God was made to love you. That’s our main reason for existence – love. God isn’t focused on religious rituals. He’s not concerned about following strict moral rules or specific behaviors. Instead, we were designed to build a bond with God. As a group, as a community, we share and strengthen this bond. This means that as a community – a community of believers – we are united by this purpose. Our gatherings and services are for expressing our love to Jesus Christ. Being part of this community isn’t about joining a social group or just attending events. It’s more profound than just following religious customs. It’s about our deep, personal connection with Jesus Christ. The most significant thing in our lives? Loving Him in return, especially since He loved us so much He gave His life for us. Every Sunday, every single day, in fact, should be a testament to this love. As we sang earlier, God means everything to us. He is the one, the only one, deserving of our worship.
Let’s dive into the text. Please turn to Matthew 22 in your Bibles. Right before our passage, the Sadducees, who wrongly challenged Jesus about resurrection, were shut down by Him. Next, the Pharisees step up, attempting to confuse Him with a tricky question: Which commandment is the most important? Their aim was to prove that Jesus wasn’t a real spiritual leader. But Jesus answered them confidently, saying, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ He declared this as the most significant commandment.
The second commandment is just as important: love your neighbor as yourself. That’s what community is about. Not only should we love God, but we should also love the people around us. I want to emphasize that we should love God with every part of us – our heart, soul, and mind. To put it simply, love God with everything you’ve got. That’s the main point of today’s talk. Isn’t there something beautiful about loving someone wholeheartedly? It’s like giving your all to God. Yet, we often find it hard. Why? Because I believe, as long as you’re alive and human, and I’m pretty sure you are, we all have a problem letting go of control.
Thank you. We all struggle with wanting control. I’m sure each of you has something you like to have control over. Trust me, it’s easy to see once I get to know you. When I married my wife, I quickly noticed she likes things a certain way in the kitchen. She has specific spots for items, and if I move them, even slightly, she’ll notice. But she can move them, and I’m left puzzled. It might sound funny, but in my mind, she asks in a dramatic way, “Who moved the butter dish?”. Remember, always be honest, especially in church. The main point is, when you truly love God and let Him love you back, your life gains purpose and meaning. Without this bond, you might feel empty because you’re missing the essence of life. We’re meant to have a deep and loving relationship with Jesus Christ. Isn’t that more fulfilling than just going through religious motions?
I want to deeply love Jesus Christ. The Bible tells us to love God with our whole heart, soul, and mind. But how do we achieve that? Today, we’ll dive into this. The key is ‘worship’. Some might think worship is just singing songs in church. But it’s more than that. Worship is about showing love to God. There are many ways to express love, right? According to the Bible, worship isn’t just a routine or a church activity. It’s a way to express our love to God. Anytime you’re showing love to God, that’s worship, whether alone, in a small group, or a big gathering. When you express love to God, you’re truly worshiping.
You can be on a drive and showing affection to God. This is worship. Whether you are with one more person or in a crowd of many, showcasing love to God is an act of worship. We are meant to do this collectively. Barb, it’s truly more delightful when we do it together, right? It feels so much better when you can share this love with others, especially when united with fellow believers in Christ. Observing someone openly express love is quite beautiful, isn’t it? Have you ever taken a moment to simply witness someone showering another with love? It’s quite a sight, isn’t it?
It truly warms the heart. In the challenging world we live in today, such moments should bring us comfort. Whenever you show love to God, in any form, that’s worship. Let me add, worship is even more special when done collectively. I’ve had wonderful moments of personal worship. But what I truly cherish is being among others, hearing them sing and feeling their devotion. Seeing people’s love for Jesus manifest in song, greetings, hugs, and prayers is heartwarming. It’s genuinely uplifting to witness such love, especially in the tough times our world is facing.
Being around people who love God feels so good, especially when outside, it seems everyone is upset over something. Just the other day at the store, someone kept honking at me. Seriously, they just wouldn’t stop. I checked everything – my lights, my turn signals, even wondered about my radio station choice. What did I do to upset them? They even waved, but not in a friendly way. It’s hard to understand such behavior. But then, coming to God’s place feels different and peaceful. Now, don’t get ahead of yourselves; while I have just one main thing to discuss today, remember, I might have many smaller points to cover. So, even if we have just one main topic, it doesn’t mean we’ll wrap up super early. We’ll spend some quality time together here.
The main thing I’m saying is, showing my love is worship. That’s the key. When we say we love God with all our heart, soul, and mind, what are we really talking about? Also, loving our neighbors the same way? When the scripture mentions loving with all your heart, soul, and mind, it doesn’t mean loving them any less than you love God. This whole text speaks about love. So, what does worship look like in practice? First, one way to express our love and worship is by singing to Him, just like we did a moment ago.
Have you noticed how music and love are connected? There are so many love songs out there. Think about it – many of you might have a special song that reminds you of a loving memory. I know I’ve sung love songs and they bring back memories. Singing is a way to show love. It’s not just a warm-up for a sermon, it’s a way to truly worship and love God. Think about this: those love songs, they come straight from the heart. It’s a deep emotional expression.
Did you realize that for the past 2000 years, there have been more songs written about Jesus than any other topic? It’s incredible. The songs we sang today are love songs for Jesus. And when you sing, it’s about expression, not perfection. I remember singing to show my love, no matter how I sounded. Just like that, God wants to feel our love. When we sing, it’s like offering our love and gratitude. Psalm 147:7 says, “We should sing to the Lord with thanks.” We all have something to be grateful for, right? Regardless of what’s happening in our lives or the world, one thing remains: God loves us. Isn’t that wonderful? He remains powerful and through Jesus, we find victory.
We all have reasons to thank God, right? Let’s praise Him today. Make it joyful and loud because of everything He’s done. Remember Psalm 68 which says, “Bless our God, you people; let the sound of his praise be heard.” It’s not about what others think; it’s about showing our love to God. Psalm 95:1 reminds us, “Come, let us shout joyfully to the Lord.” I know shouting might seem unusual for some, but think about heaven. When someone turns to Jesus, angels shout with joy. So, why shouldn’t we be excited and passionate when praising Jesus? The real question is: Do we truly love Him? Let’s show our passion and shout joyfully for the Lord!
We should be so joyful because of our rock, our salvation. Yet sometimes, we feel so defeated. Why? Our God loves us and He’s still in control. And guess what? I’ve read the end, and we come out on top! That’s reason to celebrate! As the Bible says, we are victorious. This knowledge should make our worship more lively and joyful. I know many come to hear the sermon, but the songs we sang, praising God, they’re just as vital. Like one author said, “Worship is pushing aside all distractions and focusing solely on God.” Besides singing, we can also show our love by talking to Him. Just like in any relationship, communication is key. And in our relationship with God, it’s no different.
Now listen I know that I’m a slow learner but it did not take me long in marriage to realize communication is important. How about you guys? and I couldn’t just communicate any other way. I had to sit down and talk with her, share with her, and communicate with her. I want to tell you it’s the same thing with the worship of God. God desires us to communicate with Him. We need to be in deep and significant conversations with God. The more you talk to Him, the more your relationship with Him grows. We shouldn’t forget about the power and importance of prayer. When you really love someone, you don’t just spend time with them, you want to talk to them. What do you talk to God about? Express your love. What can you share with Him? Well, anything that you’d share with a best friend. Folks, we need to talk to Him about our hopes, fears, dreams, and even our anxieties. Do you think God is shocked when you come to Him saying, ‘Lord, I have some anxiety about this?’ No, but graciously and lovingly, He wants to hear. Understand that crying out is part of worship, because it shows our need and desperation for God. We need to talk to Him about things that embarrass us, things we’re proud of, things we’re ashamed of, our goals, ambitions, hurts, and cares. We should have a personal, intimate relationship and speak to God as if He’s our very best friend, because He is. If your Christian life becomes routine, dull, joyless, and lifeless, my question to you is, are you worshiping God by having a heart-to-heart talk with Him daily? This should also be done within the community.
Why? Because history is filled with the community of Christ coming together to pray, talking to God. So it’s not just individual. We can have individual prayer, right, Joyce? We can have that individual time. But there are times that God says, ‘Come together and pray.’ I don’t know about you, but I’m encouraged when I hear other people’s prayers. How about you? I can also hear their hurts and their desires. Folks, let’s be a praying church. Let’s take prayer seriously because that’s one way we can love God. No. 3: Not only should we sing and talk, but we also need to listen to Him. How do we love God with all our heart, soul, and mind? Don’t you think we should listen to Him? Understand that listening is one of the greatest gifts you can give somebody. When you listen to someone, you’re saying they matter. But too often, we’re so busy talking about ourselves that we don’t listen. God wants to do something here this morning. He wants to move in your life. My question is, are you listening? Sometimes He uses sermons, sometimes life group lessons, and sometimes just a friend in church to speak to you.
Are you prepared to listen? How many times have we come to church, not listened to God, and by that action told God he doesn’t really matter to us? I wish I could stand here as a pastor and say I’ve never done that. But sadly, there are times when I haven’t listened, even when God has been reaching out to me, reminding me that I need to hear and respond to him. There have been instances when I’ve left the church while God was trying to communicate something important to me. And let me tell you, if you think you can run from God, you’re mistaken. No matter how far you try to run, if he’s speaking, he will ensure the message gets through. Isn’t it comforting that he never stops reaching out to us because of his love and devotion? Yet, we’re often too rushed to truly listen. Typically, when we come to church, our conversation with God is more like, “Hi God, it’s me. I have ten things I need from you. Thanks. Over and out.” Is that usually how we approach our relationship with him?
Man, Lord, I have this list. Here are these things. And I keep saying, “Lord, give me, give me, give me.” Is that our usual approach? “Lord, I want, I want, I want.” But we rarely pause to listen. Have you ever experienced that with a child? Moms, surely you have. Ever seen a child in a store shouting, “I want, I need”? My mom used to grab me by the arm and say, “Listen, what you need and what you get are two different things, and you’re not getting that.” Mom, remember that? Oh yes, she remembers. But folks, we often just voice our needs and wants. Imagine if I only approached my wife with requests: “Honey, I need this, I need that. Could you mow the lawn? Could you do this other thing?” That doesn’t show love. If I’m always asking and never listening, that’s not a balanced relationship. Ladies, can I get an amen? Thank you! That’s not real love. So, we need to learn to listen as well.
I love the scripture in John 10:14 and 16. It says, “I am the Good Shepherd, and I know my own sheep. And they know me, and they listen to my voice.” Are you listening? Moving on, not only should we worship by singing and praying, or talking to Him and listening to Him, but we should also worship by publicly identifying with Him. Isn’t that right? Guys, I want to share something. I have family and friends who attend this church. Maybe it sounds strange, but I’m feeling sentimental today. I cherish my role as your pastor. It’s a blessing to be here, and I’m amazed you’ve tolerated me for so long. But when my family and friends come in, I’m eager for them to meet you all. I love identifying with you. You’re my family. And I know some of you might think, “Well, he probably feels that way about most people here, but not about someone like me because I’m a bit odd.” No, even you. Whoever you are, I’m proud to know you. God wants us to feel the same way about Him, unashamed of Him, whether at work, home, or in our community.
That’s where community also helps. When you are around others who are not ashamed of being a Christian, it becomes easier for you not to be ashamed, right? That’s why we need community. I know you’re not ashamed, Barb. I know, Pam, you’re not ashamed either. And it’s uplifting when I’m around you because it strengthens my resolve. We really need each other, don’t we? Therefore, let’s not be ashamed. Take a look at Matthew chapter 5, verses 14 through 16. It reads, “You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” I want to elaborate on this for clarity. Maybe some of you don’t fully grasp this scripture. Jesus is referred to as the light of the world. When we accept Him into our hearts through salvation, His light dwells within us. That’s what the writer is emphasizing. What did Jesus say? “Let your light shine.” This light, that Jesus Christ instilled in us, should shine brightly.
Now if you don’t understand that part, let’s try this one. How many of you remember this: ‘This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine’? Come on, Laura, help me out on this one. ‘This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine.’ Keep it going… ‘Don’t let Satan blow it out.’ How about this one: ‘Don’t hide it under a bushel’? No! There you go. Now you guys got it. See, some people don’t grasp the Bible until you bring one of those songs out. Ryan, whatever it takes. Isn’t that such a true song though? We are the light. We are a beacon. Let that light shine. Let others see the good works in you, because the good works are not accomplished by what you do but by what Jesus Christ does through you. Let that radiance be seen. And listen, when we shine together, we form a community. Have you noticed that courage and unity go hand in hand? When you shine, Mark, it makes it easier for me to shine, and I gain strength from that. When you shine, and you shine, and you shine, it becomes effortless for all of us to reflect the light of Jesus Christ. It’s easy to muster the courage to shine. Think about it, if they can shine, so can I. Folks, if we aim to worship God and show affection towards Him, let’s not be embarrassed or hesitant. I adore Mark 8:38, where it says, ‘If anyone is ashamed of me and my teachings, then I will be ashamed of him when I return in the glory of the Father.’ Don’t be ashamed.
Be proud of who you are as a Christian. You’re saved by the blood of Jesus Christ. But not only by identifying, but if we’re going to love Him through worship, we need to worship by being committed to Him. So often, we think of commitment from purely an individual perspective, but often in scripture, we find the people of God corporately making commitments. For example, remember Joshua? There was a point towards the end of his life when he declared, ‘As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.’ And then, do you recall how he gave them an option? He said, ‘You need to choose,’ because they were bringing false gods into the House of God and his family of Israel. He asserted, ‘Which God are you going to serve? You need to choose today.’ And I love that famous verse in Joshua 24:24, ‘So the people said to Joshua, we will worship the Lord our God and obey Him.’ They made the decision. But what I didn’t mention earlier is that, at that point when they declared their decision, he responded, ‘Okay, I just want you to know I am a witness to that. I’m a witness to that, and so is everybody else. I’m a witness to that.’ Folks, we need to be a witness to someone’s commitment to Jesus Christ. Why? So I can approach Mike, and if he stumbles, if he falls, or if he finds a hard and difficult place in his life, I can throw my arms around him and say, ‘Mike, man, I remember when you gave your life to Christ.’
I remember that you made a commitment to Christ. Let me hold you up. Let me pick you up. Let me be there with you. Let me remind you of your commitment. Don’t forget what you’ve given to God. Commitment is not an ugly word. It’s something we need in our lives. It shows character. That is what love is really all about, isn’t it? Commitment. What if you went to somebody and said, ‘Man, I love you, but I’m not going to be committed to you’? Some of the greatest parents I’ve ever met, the most dedicated moms, are committed to their children. The dads are committed to their children. Some of the greatest couples I’ve ever met: the wife is committed to the husband, and the husband is committed to the wife. And the greatest churches? It’s when we all come together and we’re all in unison, committed to the blood of Jesus Christ and one another. That’s community, isn’t it? Our world needs more commitment. In our world today, people are often only committed to themselves. They’re always asking, ‘What can I get? What can I have?’ That goes against the word of God. So, what are the things we need to be committed to today? First, we need to be committed to Jesus Christ. If you have yet to do this, you need to commit to giving your life to Him. You need to commit your life to His family, the body of Christ. Be committed. Say, ‘This is my church. What can I do? Where can I serve?’
How can I use my time? My talents? How can I use these things? Man, I need to be committed to others. Listen, it’s good to be committed to one another. I’m committed to you, Troy. You’re committed to me. We’re committed to one another. That’s family. That’s a bond, isn’t it? Committed to growing spiritually and becoming more like Him, finding ways to grow, getting involved in small groups, women’s groups, men’s groups, using your talents and gifts, and helping others. And most certainly, you need to be committed to sharing the good news with other people. Those are the five basics.
Now, the last one: What does loving God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind mean? Well, He says that one way we do that is through worship. We do that through singing. We do that by talking to Him. We do that by listening to Him. We do that by identifying with Him. We do that by being committed to Him. And yes, we do that by giving to Him. See, sometimes I think we view the offertory as just a time when we’re going to collect money. And by the way, we ask nothing of you, and I mean that from my heart. I know I say that every Sunday when you’re a guest in this house. But we, as a church, are supposed to come together and give. The first-generation Christians were givers, and they did that together.
There’s a powerful text I want to share with you in just a moment. But it’s amazing what can be done and accomplished when we each give our little bit. Listen carefully to the history recorded of the early church in Acts 4, verses 32 through 35. Did I get that right? Or is it 20:35? Thank you.
Now, the entire group of those who believed—how many of them? All of them, the entire community—were of one heart and mind. And no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but instead, they held everything in common. With great power, the apostles were giving testimony of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was on all of them. For there was not a needy person among them because all those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the proceeds of what was sold, and laid them at the apostles’ feet. This was distributed to each person as any had need.
Wow, guys. Now, this might scare some of you. “Whoa, wait a minute. Is Kevin going to say I need to go sell my house?” No, Ryan, I’m not asking you to sell your house. But I am telling you that as a community, we need to have a different approach to giving to the Lord. See, we don’t give to a church.
We give through a church for the Kingdom of God. We use those funds in many ways. As you know, John, they go to our benevolence fund, helping families out. Some are within the church, some are outside, but we’re doing what we can to help. We know that a portion of the funds that come into this church go to help almost 4,000 missionaries around the world. We know that it goes to help with Awana, Michael, as we’re trying to start that. We know that it goes to the children’s ministry, to children’s camps, and all that. Understand, that’s what it’s called to do.
And I know right now some of you might be panicking, thinking, “Where are we in our lives right now? As a family, we’re so in debt right now. There’s no way that I can bring a tithe, let alone offer more to the church.” Let me just share this with you: don’t let that be the only point that resonates. If you’re already giving, praise God. But folks, listen, it’s about the heart. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. Start somewhere. Maybe start with 1% of your income and contribute that. Progress to 2% or 3%. Do something that stretches you a bit, but have that end goal in mind. Say, “I want to love God by giving Him my very best. I don’t want to give the government more than I give to God. I want to prioritize my best for God.”
Folks, I want to emphasize that love is about giving our best. Just as DeAdra’s always trying to love me by giving her very best, my response should be to reciprocate by giving my very best.
All of us should recognize that giving is a part of worship. Can you imagine? It’s not an afterthought. It’s not something we do just to pay the bills. While that’s a part of it, it’s primarily about giving through a church for the Kingdom work of God. As the praise team comes forward, consider this: What would happen if our church became serious about sharing with those in need? Can you imagine the impact if we were so dedicated to community that we freely provided for those in need? What would it look like if we collectively gave our best to the Lord and stopped withholding what rightfully belongs to Him? We should strive to give our best.
Listen, I need to emphasize this: I’m not preaching about this because we’re in a financial crisis. God has been very good to this church and has blessed us this year. Instead, our focus is on what we’re called to do. And if giving is a part of worship, then giving to God and others is the very essence of love.
Now, as we transition to a time of worship through song, reflect on this: Are you truly worshiping God with all your heart, soul, and mind? Are you willing to love God with everything you have? Barbara, that’s the crux of it. And I often say, I don’t want to merely play church. Can you imagine the transformation, John, if as a community of believers, we were so deeply in love with God that we couldn’t stop singing about Him? That we couldn’t wait to hear more about Him, talk with Him, and give generously to show Him our love? That’s the vision I have, Ryan. That’s the passion driving me. I yearn to love God that deeply because He gave His life for me.
So, let’s rise and sing. Engage with these songs and respond to God’s love. Can you sense His presence? Oh, I certainly can.