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The Great Commandment (1 of 6)

Mike Connell

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The Great Commandment (1 of 6) You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your mind, and all your soul. This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is like it: love your neighbour as yourself. Love God passionately, love people fervently - including yourself.
I want to just start another series, and I want to look at Extravagant Love. That's a good one, Extravagant Love - trying to think about what I could call this series, Extravagant Love. So we're going to do some messages just related to that, and I want us to start in this particular passage here, in Matthew, Chapter 22. Jesus asked a question, in Verse 36, Teacher, what's the great commandment in the law? What's the most important thing in the Bible? And Jesus said to him - here it is - You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your mind and all your soul. He said this is the first and great commandment. Second's like it: love your neighbour as yourself. So notice there, love God passionately, love people fervently including yourself and so we're going to look at this series on Extravagant Love but this particular time we want to look at the love that God has for us, because most people when they think about being Christian they think well, there's lots of things you have to do now, and lots of things you're not supposed to do now.

It seems like life's more complicated, but Jesus never came to make life complicated. He came to make it abundant and He came to make it abundant by introducing us to a relationship, a personal relationship with God. So you notice what He says here the whole of the Bible, everything is summed up in passionately loving God. Notice all your soul and all your mind and all your heart. That's not sort of an inexpressive thing, that is a passionate thing. I was watching an interview with that New Zealand group Flight of the Conchords. You know Flight of the Conchords? These Kiwi guys and they're just trying to [speaks in a monotone] talk like this you know. One of the guys says those guys talk funny and this is what they said. They said oh no, that's just a New Zealand accent. I laughed and laughed when I saw that, but what it was, they were just highlight the monotony and lack of expression and passion.

When you have a look a lot of people are like that, no passion, no passion! God is a passionate lover of people, and we're going to look and see that the whole key around us loving God passionately is first of all experiencing Him. You can't make something like that just happen. It can't be done unless God doesn't first ignite something in our life by touching us, so before we look about loving extravagantly, loving God, loving people, love ourselves, before we go down that track we want to focus today on just the passionate love that God has for us because people have all kinds of concepts of God. The way you see God, is how you will approach Him, so if you have wrong concepts of God, it will affect how you can connect to Him, so for example if you believe someone's angry at you, you're going to steer clear of them. If you feel guilty that you've already failed someone, let them down, you probably won't want to meet Him.

If you feel that someone is really heavy and demanding of you, you won't enjoy being around them, but if you know someone loves you and celebrates you and welcomes you, accepts you no matter what's happened in your life, they're not fazed, they're not changed, they're not disturbed, that they can totally be relied on to embrace and celebrate you, you could easily connect with a person like that. The problem is we don't have many relationships like that, and so we project the pain of our own relationships into the relationship with God, and then avoid Him. I want to just show and open up the Bible and show you just the extremely expressive, passionate manner that God loves people. It's extraordinary and it's pictured all through the Bible, just how passionate God is, and so we're going to look at that. In 1 John 4, Verse 19 it says this. It says we love Him because He first touched us with His love. So this love that Jesus says, love the Lord your God with all your heart, love Him passionately, get into God. Really be engaged and love Him passionately, and then let it overflow to love people. He said, that is the response that comes when we experience something with Him, so the thing is not to try harder to love God and love people. The thing is firstly fuel the fire of your experience with Him. We love Him, because He first loved us. We respond to Him, because He first initiated reaching out to us. Now when you begin to see that, when your capacity to live the Christian life diminishes, take time to get near and experience the love God has for you. It will ignite the fire again. Get in His presence.