‘Be careful what you ask for!’ How many times have you heard that warning? There are, I am sure, times in all our lives when we’ve paid the price for want of caution. But I am proposing a re-write for the New Year, a variation on the theme: ‘Be daring in what you ask for!’ Here’s why I’m ‘tugging on Superman’s cape’: when Jesus found himself in the crosshairs of the Jewish religious elite, his answer to their carefully crafted trap about the most important commandment in the law, he dared to defang their skullduggery by defining faith not in terms of legalistic perfectionism (their specialized piety), but in terms of a passionate, all-consuming relationship: “Love the Lord your God with every passion of your heart, with all the energy of your being, and with every thought that is within you. This is the great and supreme commandment.” And while they were trying to catch their breath and deliver a comeback laden with sufficient gravitas, Jesus, pushing the envelope further still, added: “And the second is like it in importance: ‘You must love your friend in the same way you love yourself.’ Contained within these commandments to love you will find all the meaning of the Law and the Prophets.” Matt. 22: 37-40, TPT
Wow! Those poor, busted Pharisees! Not only was there no mention of rules-keeping, synagogue attendance, or kudos for scrupulous religiosity, Jesus exposed their haughty, ego-powered superiority and chilling snobbery. He had earlier silenced the Sadducees and now he had taken aim at the other ruling group within Judaism. So, here’s where the rubber meets our road: Jesus is turning to us asking what we hold as the most important thing we need to do in living as his followers. Is it signing in to Zoom every Sunday morning and every Tuesday evening? Is it reading Scripture three times a day? Is it faithfully paying tithes, and even giving extra? Is it (mostly) refraining from all overtly worldly pursuits? These all have their value, but I hear Jesus pushing our envelopes, too.
Circling back to my thoughts at the top of the page, I propose a daring 2021 New Year’s Ask. Ready? OK, here it is: “Jesus, I ask that you give me the resolve to love you with every passion of my heart, with all the energy of my being, and with every thought that is within me, throughout the twelve months of 2021.” Loving, as my #1 priority in 2021! Loving myself. Loving my friends and neighbors. Loving Jesus! The underlines are the crux, the real test, of this bold ask and could very well catapult us at the Father’s heart in an overflow of joy for which we’ve always longed! I’m so excited at the thought of it, I’m going to get another glass of eggnog! And as Horace says, see all you beautiful people tomorrow at 10 AM. PD
ps today is Day #9 of Christmas- you were wondering, weren’t you?