Being a Christian means you believe that Jesus is Lord and you believe God raised him from the dead. Being a good Christian, on the other hand, means so much more. If you’ve spent any time around the church, you have surely heard all the different rules and regulations for being Christian. Some of these rules are the Ten Commandments – don’t steal. Some are Old Testament laws – don’t get a tattoo. Some are rules established by different denominations of Christianity – women don’t wear pants. With all these rules at play, what does it really take to be a good Christian?
In Mark 12:28-34 and Matthew 22:34-40 Jesus makes it very clear what the most important rule is in Christianity. It is love. The most important thing is to love God. Then Jesus says, “A second is equally important.” He says to love your neighbor as yourself. So….what does it take to be a good Christian? Love God. Love Yourself. Love Others. Just love.
Let’s take a look at this week’s passages. Both Matthew and Mark write about this experience in their biographies of Jesus. I encourage you to read the account in each of these gospels.
As usual, the religious experts were always trying to trick Jesus into saying or doing something wrong so they could discredit him. First, the Sadducees asked him a tricky question about marriage and the resurrection (Mark 12:18-27) but he made them look foolish. After the Pharisees heard how Jesus answered the Sadducees they came with their own question. The Pharisees wanted to know which of the Ten Commandments was greatest. This was a trap. If Jesus had said any one of the commandments was most important, then he’d be minimizing the others. So, the experts thought they had him.
Jesus answers in the most simplistic yet extraordinary way. He explains to them that if their hearts are filled with love, well…the rest of it takes care of itself. Think about it…if you love other people, you won’t steal from them, lie to them or lie on them, cheat on your spouse, etc. If you love the Lord with all your heart, you’ll keep his commandments. So, it stands to reason that loving God and everybody else pretty much covers it.
Being a good Christian is a heart matter. Jesus tells us numerous times in the gospels that what is in our hearts matter. Filling our hearts with love adjusts our thoughts and behaviors and moves us toward WWJD.
Love others as yourself.
If I don’t love me, I can’t possibly love you. This is why self-love is important. You must understand that God loves you. You are valuable. You are created perfectly to do and be all that He wants you to do and be. You can’t fail at being “you.”
Self-love leads to complete love. And guess what? The more you love God, the more you love you. The closer you get to God you understand his love and purpose for your life. You start loving yourself more and then suddenly there is an outpour of love for everyone and everything God created.
Start with God
God is love so start with God. Pray and study the Bible. Ask God to fill you with His love so that you can love others. This love will guide you into all the “rules” for being a good Christian.
Can there be such a thing as a “bad” Christian? Why or why not? How does God’s love make us better Christians?