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Thursday, June 21, 2012, 12:42 PM

A time will come, whether we believe it or not, when we will stand before God and God will ask us just one question–only one. And he will not ask us how many times we have gone to church, or how many times we have read the Bible, or how many times we have received holy communion, how much money we donated to our church, or anything else like that. God will only ask us “Do you love me?”

But we will not answer “yes” or “no” with our mouths, we will answer with our lives. Our entire lives will be reviewed and it will be in how we have lived our lives that determines whether we love God or not. God reviews our whole life, not to make us wallow in every way we have fallen short, but looking for some way we have demonstrated our love.

For it is the Word of God itself that declares:

“If we are rich and see others in need, yet close our hearts against them, how can we claim that we love God?” (1 Jn. 3:17). “For we cannot love God, whom we have not seen, if we do not love others, whom we have seen” (1 Jn. 4:19).

And it is our Lord Jesus Christ who tells us how we love God:

“I was hungry and you fed me, thirsty and you gave me a drink; I was a stranger and you received me in your homes, naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you took care of me, in prison and you visited me'” (Mt. 25:35-36).

And God our Father teaches us how we are to love Him, speaking through His Son, saying:

“‘whenever you did this for one of the least important of these followers of mine, you did it for me!’” (Mt. 25:40), and “‘whenever you refused to help one of these least important ones, you refused to help me’” (Mt. 25:45).

So the Lord has made it clear to us that it is how we treat those who are most insignificant and without power that demonstrates our love for God. Those who love the world show respect and honor and concern for the rich and the powerful. It is the twisted nature of the world to give to those who do not need, and to take from those who don’t have enough. It is the twisted way of the world to fawn over the rich and the powerful, but to despise the poor and the powerless. When we give to the wealthy, when we show honor to the wealthy, when we show partiality to the wealthy and the powerful, we demonstrate our love for the world and the things of the world. But “Do you not know that to be a lover of the world means enmity with God? Therefore, whoever wants to be a lover of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4). Have we not heard that “the world in its present form is passing away” (1 Cor. 7:31)?

And again God shows us how to be religious:

“What God the Father considers to be pure and genuine religion is this: to take care of orphans and widows in their suffering”–that is to care for the poor, the powerless, those who have no means of support, no protection, and who are oppressed by others and by circumstances–“and to keep oneself from being corrupted by the world”–which means to keep one’s mind from giving into greed and selfishness, which not only keeps the powerless in their suffering, but comes to blame the powerless for being powerless and the poor for being poor--for we never love the world more, and we never show our hatred of God more, than when we blame those who need our help for being in need of our help, and then use that blame as a justification and pretext to deny them the help they desperately need from us.

This is now the moment! This is now the moment that will declare to your God on the Day of Judgment whether you love God or whether you hate God. Loving the world and the things of the world is hatred of God–this isn’t my opinion, it is God’s opinion, written in His own Word! Loving those who are poor, despised, powerless, in need, hungry, naked, sick, lonely, in short, loving those who are hated by the world, this is the love of God and love for God–this isn’t my opinion, it is God’s opinion, written in His own Word!

Now is the moment! God is asking you if you love Him. But God does not want us to sacrifice our words; God wants us to sacrifice how we live our lives. We live our lives for the Lord and not for ourselves, because “for us there is one God, the Father, from whom all things are and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things are and through whom we exist” (1 Cor. 8:6). “For if we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord; so then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s" (Romans 14:8).

Since we exist for God and belong to God, we show our love for God by amending our lives, and even our thoughts, so that our wholes lives declare our love for God, so that when we meet God face to face on that Day of Judgment, we shall have no doubt or vacillation when asked “Do you love me?” for our whole lives will have declared it, and our all our deeds will find us in heaven, “for their works accompany them” says the Lord (Rev. 14:13).

To that end, let us learn to love God now in how we live, so that we may love Him forever when we die. So joined with the wishes of the Apostle, “I urge you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:1-2), and declare with your whole life, that you do love God.

Our lives aren’t divided up between our real lives and our religious lives; or among our financial lives and our religious lives; or our work lives and our religious lives; or any other division that singles out our religious life as something other and distinct from every day life. We don’t live our religious lives for an hour once a week (and that is being generous to a lot of us) and then live the rest of our lives. Our religious life is the sets the boundaries for how we live our lives.

Yet, our religious lives are not made up by doing things. Going to church helps aid in how we live our religious lives, but it is not to be confused with religious life. The same is true for reading the Bible, receiving the Sacraments, confessing our sins, and the like. These things help. They assist us in our religious life, but they are not our religious life. They are merely tools we use in our religious life.

A time will come, whether we believe it or not, when we will stand before God and God will ask us just one question–only one. And he will not ask us how many times we have gone to church, or how many times we have read the Bible, or how many times we have received holy communion, how much money we donated to our church, or anything else like that. God will only ask us “Do you love me?”

How will we answer?

May these words bless us and help to lead us into eternal life and eternal love with God. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 


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