“To be truly religious is to love God and to love the men whom God made in His own image; and to love God and man, not with a nebulous sentimentality, but with that total commitment which issues in devotion to God and practical service of men.”—William Barclay
- “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5) is part of the “Shema,” the basic, essential creed of Judiasm. Every religious service opens with this sentence. Every child memorizes this sentence before anything else. The ”Shema” is a reminder—over and over again—that our love to God must supersede everything else. In Matthew 22:34-40, Jesus adds an addendum to this creed. Look at Jesus’ words. In what ways are we guilty of the same thing the Pharisees were? How does the new covenant emphasize the application of love?
- Within the realm of His great and unfathomable love, God lays down His law. Compare the relationship of God and man with that of a parent and child. What is the purpose of the law in a love relationship? How do boundaries and spoken expectations enhance a relationship? What do God’s laws and boundaries teach us about His character?
- Name two or three specific incidents from Jesus’ life that are examples of how He “practiced what He preached”—in other words, instances where He truly loved his neighbor as Himself. What if Jesus were to walk the streets of your town today? How would He show love for His neighbor? Tell me why.
- When you break part of God’s law, His grace comes to the rescue. Does this mean that grace nullifies the need for law? Think of instances when you have appreciated boundaries set by the Bible, the church or society. Share examples of how law and grace have come together in your life.
- The old covenant played an important role in Israel’s exodus from Egypt to Canaan. It was a visible sign of God’s protective love and care. In your personal spiritual life, how does the covenant translate into visible signs of God’s love and care? What, if any, is your role in the process of experiencing the byproducts of a covenant relationship with Jesus Christ?
- Read Barclay’s quote again. Think of specific ways by which we love God and man with “nebulous sentimentality.” What can you do in your local church to encourage one another to be more sincere in your love to God and your neighbor? Name things, issues, circumstances that interfere in your attempts to be sincere. How can you protect yourself from these interferences?