I was doing a Bible study the other day. I think it was yesterday. I was musing on several sermons that I have heard over the years, one of them most recently on Sunday. The other sermon was from a few years ago while we lived in Gainesville. The sermon stated that loving God and loving our neighbor isn’t enough, that’s why we need to follow the law of God. Following the law, allows grace not to over extend itself. An interesting concept. I’m not sure that grace can over extend itself. Is it really grace if it does over extend itself? I have never been comfortable with this sermon’s assessment of grace and our need to follow the law and the loving one’s neighbor and God wasn’t enough. But is there any truth to the statement that it takes more than just love? I just heard a sermon this last week on worshipping God with both the head and the heart. The sermon ran over several texts that point to the fact that we have to worship God not just with our head but our heart too. And vice versa. The sermon called our attention to several passages of Scripture like where David had the Ark of the Covenant brought into the city and he had it carried by oxen instead of men. The Ark fell over and a dude grabbed it and died because he touched it. And another passage where the Assyrians needed to be taught the customs of the Israelites they taken over in order to attempt to stave off God’s wrath. They were taught the mechanics of worship but weren’t able to get it with their hearts.
Where is the balance in all this? It is hard to say. There has to be an amount of both the head, or cognitive aspect to worship, and the heart, or emotional response.
Somethings that were said in these sermons that were compelling to me were that God does us a favor by showing up to our worship. Worship is for God and if we don’t do it right, he doesn’t have to come. Heart or emotional worship isn’t enough, we need to do it right… as in follow the concepts and precepts that God has said are pleasing to him. JUst blind following of the laws/rules isn’t enough. Following the letter of the law doesn’t cut it. Acts of service and love aren’t enough, we need to call people to live a different life, a better life. Social gospels like assisting people in the altruistic betterment of their lives isn’t enough. it seems as though our methods for sharing the Gospel have become the Gospel. The Gospel is a message of love and acceptance as well as repentance. It isn’t enough to just love people, we have to talk about the truth, about Christ… his sacrifice and what our response needs to be to him.
It is interesting to note that while Jesus loved unconditionally, he also called people to a higher standard. He often forgave sins and then called them to live in a way that they knew they should be living in the first place. He also confronted the Pharisees for their blatant hypocrisy by attempting to please God with simple rule following.
Our responsibility is to find the balance between following the letter of the law and loving too much so that we leave out the need for the death of Christ to cover our sins.