Monday, November 5, 2012

The Important Thing

          The lawyer who came to Jesus with his question about the most important commandment had been listening to Jesus as he taught and was questioned by the other religious of Jerusalem.  He could tell by the way he answered that this Rabbi was a wise man who knew things. He had insights that no one else had heard of or spoken of before. So, he posed his question about the most important thing.
          So, what’s the most important thing for us? Is it still loving God and loving our neighbor? If that’s the answer then how are we doing that most important thing?
          I believe that love is the most important thing for all of us. It’s important to love God with all everything we are and it’s important to love our neighbors.  Love is the key here.
          Last night two people we love made a commitment to love each other for ever. Their love is very evident for us to see.  You can tell by their actions how much they care for each other, the little things they do for each other, how they talk to each other.
          But we all know that it’s not always that easy to love all the time. And sometimes we fall out of love. And the root cause of that may be that we fall out of love with ourselves. We have strayed away from God and we don’t love ourselves very much. So, we don’t love neighbors or God because we don’t love ourselves.
          We might want to look within ourselves to try to discover why it is we don’t love as we should. It could be that we suffer from the same malady that Jesus’ disciples suffered from, the desire to be the greatest or have the most or…be the most important.
          If that’s the problem with us then it should be easy to correct it. What did Jesus say?  Whoever want to be first must be last, must be a servant or a slave to all. Or as he told the rich young man who wanted to know how to obtain eternal life, “Sell everything you have, give the proceeds to the poor and then follow me.”
          If a person were to do those things, serve others, give everything away, and follow Jesus who would they have to depend on?  They could no longer depend on themselves to provide shelter and food and clothes because they’ve given it all away. Who would they turn to?
          Who do you turn to when you’ve exhausted all other possibilities, another person? Maybe, but most of us will turn to God.  Why?
          I think it’s when we’ve run out of options that we discover that the One who loves us the most, who really cares for us, is the One who is able to provide just what we need.
          We’ve been hearing the last couple of Sundays what the disciples thought was important and then what they learned from Jesus that was important. They weren’t anywhere close to the same.
          Following this lesson in Mark’s gospel is the story of the widow who gave out of her poverty.  She gave two coins that were probably, at most, only worth enough to buy food for one modest meal. But she gave them hoping that they could be used to help someone else who had greater needs.
          Yet others only gave what the law required not from their needs. And what they gave wasn’t always used to help those who were widowed and poor.  The leaders of the synagogue used the offerings to provide the luxuries they desired. That’s what they thought was important.
          What’s the most important thing?  Jesus told us its love. In fact his life was an example for all of us.
          He loved his Father so much that even when he was exhausted from a day being surrounded by the mass of people he would go away to some deserted place to talk with Him, to commune with Him, to be comforted by Him. And then he could go back to continue on the journey towards Jerusalem.
          God is asking us, every one of us, to examine our lives and decide what’s the important thing. And once we learn what it is then trust that the one who cares for the birds of the air, the flowers of the field, and the grass in the meadows to provide just what we need so we can love Him and our neighbors and ourselves.
          Do you believe that? Do you trust God to take care of you? Have you decided what the most important thing is?
          Friends, trust in God and love Him. Trust in God and love and care for your neighbors. Trust in Him and love yourselves. Put all your trust in God and you will find the most important thing.
          Thanks be to God for his loving grace. Amen.

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