10/12/21 – Des Steyn – Morning Service – Loving God
And whatever happens happens. And the transition was peaceful. It was actually astonishing, it became and will muddle of and South Africa became known as the rainbow nation. But what is interesting is that. The ANC had a slogan that they brought into the campaign. Their political campaign, and the slogan was, now is the time. And what was interesting is that particular slogan riled up the people and they were ready to fight and to do whatever they needed to. And here was an interesting thing. Mandela, in his wisdom, decided to use an American who. And I'm looking for his name here, who helped Bill Clinton with his campaign. And this individual came along and Stanley Greer, the man's name was he was Clinton's campaign adviser. Clinton had just won his first term. So Nelson Mandela brought this individual and said, OK, help us. And Stanley Greer said the slogan now is the time is not a good slogan. It's looking backward and it's riling up the people who said, change it. And so they changed it to a better life for all, and it was forward looking. And it seemed that slogan alone seemed to put a calmness on on the population. And of course, at the end of the day, Nelson Mandela became the president.
He received the Nobel Peace Prize because of that. And after that, they had what they called the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. And during the years leading up to this election, people had committed heinous crimes. I have friends who were killed in shopping malls because anti-personnel mines were put into garbage cans in a mall. It would go off and people would die. I personally had friends who were maimed or killed because of that. And so we were dealing with all of this. But the what the Truth and Reconciliation Commission did is anybody who had committed any kind of crime, no matter what, if they came before this commission, it was all on TV. If they came before this commission and confessed their sins, they would be forgiven. And all of these people started coming in and confessing horrific things. But the fact that they can confessed. Meant that they would be forgiven, and they were there were other individuals who refused to confess. They were tracked down and they ended up in prison. And I'll tell you all of that. I've told you this long story simply to tell you that we were ignorant. I was ignorant in my mind. It was ignorance on the part of many people.
You see, our brains did not compute. I was a white guy living in that country, and I did not realize that I was actually a racist. And what needed to happen is that I needed to learn that and I finally did. I learned that in fact, my defining moment was when I was on my way to college and I was going to catch a train. And there was just like in the US, back in the forties, fifties, the the white folk go this way, the black folk that way, first class, third class. And I was walking down a corridor into the train station and there were signs and said first Class, third Class and in front of me was a hobo, a white guy. He stank to high heaven and I kind of kept my distance from him. And just in front of him was a black lady with two children and they were immaculate. They smelled good. They dressed well. They were just. And we came to the place where where we had to go our ways. And the lady looked up at the sign and said to her children, We need to go this way. And the hobo went this way. And I thought to myself, I would prefer to go this way. And that for me was my defining moment because I knew at that point that I needed to have my brain educated, but not just my brain educated. I needed to have what I had learned dump into my heart so that it became not just an intellectual thing, that it became an emotional thing as well. And from that emotion, let it permeate the core of my being and let it outwork itself.
To where I threw off my racism and I became the kind of person that God wanted me to be. The Bible speaks of this in a very powerful way in Mark chapter twelve. We find the various groups of Jews, Jewish leaders, Pharisees Herodians, Sadducees, teachers of the law and they all seem to come to Jesus at different times and and throw questions at him in order to catch him out in order to make him look bad. And that's interesting because the Herodians were pro Herod and the Pharisees hated the Herodians because they were against Herod, who was pro Rome. They were against it. And yet they got together. Those strange bedfellows got together in order to defeat their common enemy, who was Jesus. And it was interesting because they came to him, the Pharisees and Herodians and said, Should we pay taxes to Caesar or not? And Jesus gave them an answer that was just brilliant, he said. Whose face is on this coin, Caesar's? And then he said, you render to Caesar that which is Caesar, Caesar's and God to that which is God. And they couldn't wrap their minds around that answer. And he silenced them. And then the Sadducees came along and said at the resurrection, whose wife will the dead guys be? And they talked about how she would that under the Jewish law, if a woman's husband dies her, his brother should marry her in order to continue the seed. And they said, and he died as well. And the third brother died as well. And the fourth brother died as well. And I'm thinking to myself man alive of the fifth, sixth and seventh brothers should have run like crazy big from that woman, their widow, because why are they all dying? But nevertheless, they threw it down. And she had seven husbands. And the question was, whose wife is she going to be? And Jesus said to her said to them, There's going to be no marriage in heaven. And that silenced them right there.
But then finally, the teachers of the law throw a question at Jesus and they say, What is the most important commandment? And Jesus answers them, He syas, Hear, O Israel, the Lord. Our God, the Lord is one Lord, 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. And then he said, And a second is like this you shall love your neighbor as yourself. And then He said there is no commandment greater than these.
In Mark, Chapter twelve, Matthew Chapter 22 Edge something where Jesus said on these two commandments depend all the law and all the prophets. Now this is taken from Deuteronomy Chapter six, which is called the Shamar, and it says this Moses says Hear, oh Israel the Lord. Our God is one Lord and you shall love the Lord, your god with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words, which I command you this day, shall be upon your heart and you shall teach them diligently. Listen to this, teach them diligently to your children and shall talk of them when you sit in the house and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down and when you rise and you shall bind them as a sign upon your hand. And they shall be as friendless between your eyes, and you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. And what is interesting even today, if you enter a Jewish house, they will have what's called a little measure, which is on pinned on the door, which is this Love the Lord, your god, which is written on paper and put in this little plastic thing or metal thing and pinned to the door. Back in the in the first century, the Jewish leaders used to write it onto material or leather and sewed into their garments, and they used to hang, hang the little verses from their from tassels around on their garments.
And what was interesting is that they they had the head knowledge they had. This verse about loving God with every strength of their being. And they never allowed it to dump into their hearts. And Jesus takes them on because of that in Matthew Chapter 23.
Jesus berates them is at eight times, he says to them, you scribes and Pharisees, blind guides and hypocrites. He says you make phylactories, that's these little verses sewn into little round material things He says. You make phylactories broad and your fringes long, but in verse 23, he says, woe to you scribes and Pharisees hypocrites for you tithe mint and dill and cummin In other words, you're saying you even your spices in your kitchen, you take one 10th and you take that and you give it away to the temple or to wherever He says you tithe even those things, he says. But you have neglected the weightier matters of the law, justice and mercy and faith. And the justice thing is the mind. It's the intellectual, the mercy is the heart, it's the emotional, and then faith is that soul thing that has been talked about. He says these you ought to have done without neglecting the others you blind guides he says, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel. Now, if you were a Jew, the camel is the most dirtiest animal out there who ever thought of.
I mean, when we think of eating a camel, we think, Oh, well, we'll slaughter it and cook the meat. Well, no, you need to think of just like a python would eat a dog. Think of a human being eating a camel. It just conjured up this ugly picture in their minds. Who says That's what you're doing? Why? Because you've got this knowledge. You haven't really allowed it to enter your mind, and you haven't allowed it at all to enter your heart because of the way that you are conducting yourselves.
And so this morning, just very briefly. Oh, my word. There are four components. To a loving God. And first of all, first, John, Chapter four verses seven through eight. He says beloved, let us love one another for love is from God, and everyone who does not love does not know God for God is love. You see, the supreme ethic that God has given to us is the ethic of love. It is, I believe, the crescendo of all intellectual and emotional alignment. What is the mind and what is the heart comes into an alignment when we love God, when we agape God.
And so we've got to let us not be like the young man who said to his girlfriend. He called her up one night and said, You know what? I really love you. I would swim the deepest ocean for you. I would walk across the driest desert. I would climb the highest mountain. And she said, Oh, that's so sweet. How about coming over and visiting me? And he said, Well, no, I don't think so. It's raining outside. See, that's not the kind of love that God wants from us. He wants us to completely sell ourselves out for God. In John 3:16-17, we know that verse so well for God. So loved the world that he gave his only son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
And so you have this. I believe that sometimes we have a struggle between the mind and the heart because what happens is sometimes and I think it's to some degree or another. All of us have the struggle where we intellectually understand what God requires from us.
But there there are. Maybe there is somebody that we know and love. A family member, a friend. Somebody who maybe is not. Conducting themselves or has embraced a lifestyle or a value system that does not align with our belief in what God requires of us. And so we and because we love that individual, there comes a tension in our lives. And if we're not careful, we can allow that emotion to to erode what we know God wants us to know and do. And so we have, I think every every one of us sometimes has a tension and a battle that happens occasionally. And so we look at the heart. The heart alone is not the measure of completeness with the mind. We have the intellect. We know the Bible tells us to study, to show ourselves approved. It tells us that all scripture is profitable for every good work.
And then we have to take what we know. Allow it to dump into our hearts and let it become an emotional thing for us because I think emotion is the thing that causes us to move, and so we end up doing that with all of our strength.
And then the final thing that Jesus says is love, not only God, but your neighbor as yourself. And I believe that the way we love God, the way God wants us to love him is to love our fellow human being. Listen to what Matthew, 25, says, and I'm almost done. Don't don't be panicked. I'm flipping through my notes like crazy. I'm going to have to preach a second part of the sermon. But in Matthew, 25, Jesus talks about the king coming, the son of man coming and all of the nations of the world together to him. And from among those nations, he divides the sheep and the goats. And he says, The sheep, you sheep, you are on my right side and you're going to enter the kingdom because he says, You fed me when I was hungry, you gave me water. When I was thirsty, you visited me when I was prison, you visited me when I was sick. And because you did that to me, I will you will enter into my kingdom and the says, then the righteous will answer him, Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you or thirsty and give you drink? And when what did we see you a stranger and welcome you or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you? And the king answered. Truly, I say to you as you did it to the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.
You see, the way we'll show that we love God is by loving his creation, by loving each other, by loving our fellow man, not just in this room, but even out there. And so the invitation is given to you this morning.
We are called to love God and love our neighbors with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength. And if we need to be accomplished, encouraged to accomplish this activity in our life, or if we need to get ourselves in the right relationship with God to begin with because we cannot really be useful to people out there unless we are, first of all, aligned with God or if we need prayer or assistance in any way. We invite you to respond as we stand and as we sing.