Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Standing on Solid Ground

     Watching old movies is fun and brings back many memories.  One of the recurring scenes I remember the most from movies I watched while growing up was the danger of the quicksand pit.  The hero would be running away from the bad guys when he falls into a quicksand pool.  Slowly, as he struggles, he sinks deeper and deeper.  This heightened the suspense.  Would he make it out okay? Just when everything looked hopeless, the hero's horse or buddy would come along and save the day pulling him to safety.  They say that art imitates life, and with that in mind, I do believe that many of the philosophies that abound today are like quicksand pits.  Look, with me, at the interaction between Jesus and a Scribe.
     On one occasion, during the course of the Lord's ministry, He was asked by a Scribe what the most important commandment was.  "Jesus answered, 'The most important is, 'Hear, O Israel:  The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your
soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.  The second is this:  'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  There is no other commandment greater than these'" (Mark 12:29-31).
     Jesus began His answer with the Shema (statement of faith)  which affirmed His very solid standing on God's Word.  Always the Pharisees were out to trick Him in making a statement that would prove him to be unorthodox in His thinking and contrary to the Word of God.  The faithful Jew recited the Shema both morning and night.  However, Jesus added something to this rendition of the statement of faith.  Deuteronomy 6:5 tells us to love God with all our heart, soul and strength, but Jesus added mind.  This is a crucial addition as we must love the Lord with every part of us...not just a portion.  Then Jesus goes on to follow up with loving our neighbor as ourself.  The love we have for God flows naturally into love of our fellow man.  In this reply, our Lord is summing up the intent of The Ten Commandments given by God.  The first four commands deal with our relationship with God and the remaining six deal with our relationship with man.
     At every turn, Jesus dodged the quicksand that the Pharisees hoped to sink Him in with His wise answers.  Also, our Savior was affirming the Bible as God's Word for us which offers life and hope.  It is the solid foundation on which to build a life.  When God is first in our heart, soul, mind and strength, we can develop the right sort of friendships and relationships in this world built on the genuine love of God.
     In addition with our focus on God, we can face the trials that inevitably come into every life.  He enables us to walk through the storms.  While doubts and struggles do not disappear for us, the effect they have upon us is diminished by our faith in God.  Love is a powerful weapon against the quicksand philosophies of this world like relativism, pragmatism, atheism and any other "ism's" a person will confront.
     Even more, Jesus affirmed the Word of God as the only rule for faith and authority.  As He later said, ""Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them" (Matt. 5:17).  He was the Word made flesh who dwelt among us to show us the truth.  Furthermore, Jesus went on to tell us:  "For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished" (Matt. 5:18).  This is the solid ground that will keep us from sinking.
     I cannot imagine anyone wanting to walk into a quicksand pit unless they have a death wish.  However, there are many hidden ones waiting for us to make a misstep.  This is why it is critical for us to be students of the Bible both Old and New Testaments.  God's Word is whole, living and filled with truth.  Reading it prepares us each day to face the world in which we live.  May God give us the mind, heart, soul and strength to love Him and our fellow man as much as we love ourselves.  If we do this, we will fulfill God's Law and bring Him the glory.  Selah!

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