Recently, I put together series of conversations on the Power of One. During that series, we talked briefly about the One Belief and the One Rule … and specifically that Jesus took the 613 Old Testament laws and collapsed them into one single rule:
“A new command I give you: Love one another.
As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34)
The “Love one another” wasn’t new – that part of the new one rule came from the Torah, the Jewish Bible. The new part was the “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” In other words, we must love one another in a completely self-sacrificing, lay it all down on the altar for the sake of others, kind of way.
What’s missing from that new One Rule commandment is the whole “Love God” commandment. Now, to be clear, in the Jewish Bible there are lots of rules for how and when to worship and how to treat one another, but really very few commandments about how to love God. There’s the Love God with the whole of your being command, the don’t take the Lord’s name in vain command, and to not worship any other God besides the One, True God. Pretty much all the other commands about loving and honoring God can be fit into one of these three rules or into the Love Your Neighbor rule.
But Jesus seems to usurp those three laws as if they were just so much baggage and we needn’t worry about them. It’s as if he leaves God out of the equation completely.
However, that’s not at all what Jesus does. If Jesus was anything, he was a pragmatist. He knew humanity on a personal level. Let’s not forget that he had a hand in creating humanity (John 1:3, 10). And as part of the Godhead, he dealt with humanity from Adam through Malachi. And, of course, Jesus turned away from his “godness” in order to become fully human himself. In other words, no one knew (or knows) humanity any better. He knew our strengths, our weaknesses, our foibles, and our proclivities. With all that experience and knowledge, Jesus knew that even though there had been 5000 years of human-God experience, that we still hadn’t figured it out. So he made it easy for us.
He’d tried to express it earlier with his disciples, but they missed it too:
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served,
but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)
Where’s the “love God” in that reasoning? Again, interestingly absent … but not really. Need another hint?
“Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them,
and we will come to them and make our home with them.
Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching.
These words you hear are not my own;
they belong to the Father who sent me.” (John 14:23–24)
It turns out there is only one way to “love God.” It’s not about church membership, church attendance, or even participating in either public or private worship. The only way we can express our love, our devotion, and our commitment to God is to obey his commandments and teachings.
If loving God means obedience, then the whole “love God” thing gets wrapped up in the One Rule and the One Belief.
A quick reminder … the One Belief is to believe in the birth, life, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. “Whoever believes in me …” John 3:16. So, the One Belief in Christianity is not unlike the One God belief in the Jewish Bible, except that Jesus is visible manifestation of God.
Ultimately, that One Belief is pointless without the One Rule … because we can’t honor God without obedience to God’s commandments. And here’s the “kicker”: What is the content of obedience to God? Jesus summed it all up: “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
Mathematically, it looks like this:
Sacrificially and Fully Loving Others = Loving God
Which is exactly why Jesus summed up all those 316 Jewish laws into One Rule … the One Rule that is so much more than even the Golden Rule, for the One Rule calls us to love others even more than we love ourselves. It means putting ourselves, our desires, our hopes, our dreams, our wants, and even our needs sacrificially on the altar for the good of others.
What does that look like in action? We’ll look at that in Part 02 in an upcoming post.