Andy Stanley - How to Avoid Being A Hypocritical Christian?
Hey, one of the things that nobody had to teach us, and you can probably remember this from childhood, and if you've raised kids or grandkids, you certainly get this. Nobody has to teach us how to look for or exploit loopholes right? And a loophole, as you know, is basically a way or ways around the rules that technically don't break the rules. It's a way around, are ways around the rules that don't technically break the rules. And again, long before we'd heard the term loophole, and long before anybody explained to us what it was, we were already looking for them and exploiting them, right? I mean, your mom said, clean your plate, and you said I did clean my plate.
I walked over to the trash can and I dumped the whole meal into the trash and I cleaned my plate or you know, you said to be home by nine but you didn't say nine pm. And so technically, you know, I'm like six hours early, right? So early on in life, we figure out there are ways around the rules, or how about this one I know it says no free refills, but I didn't fill it the second and the third time I went back right? Now, we all know what a loophole is, and we've all gotten pretty good at exploiting them, and nobody had to teach us how to do this. But when religious people, exploit a loophole in their own religion, we have a term for that. We call those people what we call 'em, hypocrites. That's right. But when religious leaders exploited religious rules for their own benefit, Jesus had a very specific term for those people. He called them Whitewashed tombs.
A whitewashed tomb, was a tomb that look really good on the outside. I mean, it got cleaned anytime it got dirty, they you know, they're always pressure washing this thing, making it look good on the outside, but on the inside, it was rotten, and it was dead and it was nauseating on the inside. And Jesus also said, anybody who's a religious hypocrite, especially a religious leader, they're also fools, because they think somehow God is so small that they're gonna get by with this. So here's the good news. If you don't like religious hypocrites, you have something in common with Jesus as we're about to discover today.
So today, if you've been following along, we are in part four of our series, "You're not far". This is a story as we've said every week, that should have died in Nero's Rome, but it didn't. It's the story of Jesus of Nazareth, as told by Simon Peter, and dictated to and edited by John Mark. So for 30 years, Simon Peter, Jesus's most popular famous disciple, for about 30 years after the resurrection, Peter spends his life traveling around telling his story. And you can imagine, if you were a Jesus follower in the first century, and Peter shows up in your town or your village, I mean, what an opportunity to be able to sit at the feet of a teacher who had spent his time, spent life with Jesus.
Now, Peter is in his 50s when he is dictating his story to John Mark, he's in Rome, he's in Nero's Rome. And he didn't know it at the time, but he's not gonna leave that city alive. And so Mark who has traveled with Peter and has heard many of these stories many, many times, coaxes it out of him, one last time. And Peters' story, his time with Jesus of Nazareth comes to us as the Gospel of Mark. In this first century document, as we've said, every week was eventually copied and spread around that, especially Judea, and around Alexandria, Egypt and was eventually collected with other, the other three gospels, the Apostle Paul's writings, the writings of other first century Christians, gathered together and in the fourth century, it was given a title that we know as the Bible.
But as we look at this passage today, and as we listen to these stories, and as we track with Jesus and Peter to this specific narrative, please don't hear me reading the Bible. Because, when Mark was writing this down, he was not writing the Bible. Mark was actually documenting the experience of Peter with Jesus. And he said at the very beginning of his gospel, he said "everywhere we went, every time Jesus preached, every time he taught, his message was kind of the same". And here's what he taught. He said, "the kids, the time has come, the time has come, the wait is over". Everything that the Old Testament of the law and the prophets pointed toward "the time has come, the kingdom of God has come near". Because the king son is in town, and the appropriate response is to repent and believe this good news.
Now, when we hear the word repent, especially in a religious context, we generally think it's negative. But in this context, it was positive. Peter was saying, "look, something amazing has happened". God has done something amazing and you don't wanna miss it. You need to face it and embrace it and wrap your life around it. Now, previously on "You're not Far", we discovered something very interesting about Jesus that sets us up for where we're going today. We discovered, that Jesus did not get angry when Jesus didn't get his way. Jesus got angry when religion got in the way. Jesus got angry when people use his father's words to hurt those that his father loved. And in the middle of one of these controversies with religious leaders, he dropped this bomb. And this is where we left off, last time. He said this, he said, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath".
Now we read this, and this is kinda like a, yeah, whatever. But I'm telling you, in the first century, this was a bomb, because the implications were staggering. The implications were this, that God loved people more than he loved his own commandments, that God created his commandments, he created his laws, he created his instructions, not for the sake of controlling mankind, but he gave them to us as a gift because he loves us. And to illustrate this, Jesus broke one of the, traditions of the elders that we'll talk about in just a moment. And he actually healed on the Sabbath, which was a violation of the first century application of one of the 10 commandments without keeping the Sabbath holy.
And as a result of healing on the Sabbath, the religious leaders are so angry and this just stirs more and more trouble. And then, the most unusual thing happens. And this is where we left off last week . in the middle of all this controversy, where Jesus is working so hard, healing so many people. In fact, Mark tells us and Peter told Mark, that we were so busy, we hardly had time to even stop and eat. And in the middle of all this activity, his mom and his brothers show up. And his mother says about her own son, this is amazing. She says, "He", talking about Jesus "is out of his mind" And this is amazing. And again, as I said last week, I think, when Peter was dictating this to Mark, Mark is like, "you sure you wanna include this Mark"? Peter is like, "yeah, that's what happened. I mean, there was so much going on".
But, Jesus teaching was so disruptive and so dangerous. Religious leaders had a different take on Jesus. They didn't say he was out of his mind. They said something more extreme. They said, this man is actually possessed. He is possessed by the devil. But in spite of all that, because Jesus was healing so many people, the crowds continued to grow and continued to grow. In fact, Peter goes on to say, at one point the crowds, there were so many people, we had to have a break, we had to get away. They jump in a boat, they cross a part of the Sea of Galilee. And he said, even though we had spent time trying to plan our escape, as soon as we got out of the boat, people recognized Jesus and check this out. And he said, they ran throughout the whole region, and they carried the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was.
So wherever people heard Jesus was going, there was so much activity, there was so much energy, they took people to wherever they could, they thought Jesus was going into. This is even more amazing. And wherever, this is amazing, and wherever he went into villages, towns or countryside, they placed the sick in the marketplaces. Now before we just read right by that, this is amazing. They would anticipate where Jesus was headed. People would get ahead of him and they would bring all the sick in their community and the sick from their families and they would lay them out on the side of the roads, just hoping that Jesus would stop and pause long enough to heal the people they love. There was so much energy.
In fact, as I've mentioned before, in the book of Mark, in the Gospel of Mark, the word crowd shows up in just about every chapter, I think every chapter, but two. And as Peter, again downloading this story to Mark, as he thinks about these times, he must have smiled at the memory, the energy, the activity, how they were exhausted, but it was a good exhaustion because they were doing so much good. But then he remembered this. He remembered what happened next. Because before long, there were new faces in the crowd hostile faces in the crowd. Here's what he said happened. He said, the Pharisees and some teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus.
Now this is a big deal, and Jerusalem where the temple is, this is where the primary leaders of what we would call Judaism lived, and they hear about all this trouble going on up here around Capernaum and around, in the arid region of Galilee, that there's a new Rabbi with a new teaching who's stirring up all kinds of trouble. In fact, they're concerned there might even be political trouble. So, they send a delegation from Jerusalem. It's about a six or seven day journey to find where this new Rabbi is, and they mingle into the crowd, and then they do the best they can to get close to Jesus to find out what is up with this man? Is he claiming to be Messiah? Is this movement of God? Or is this something they should be concerned about back in Jerusalem? They sent this delegation and, as soon as they get there, they noticed something that's disturbing to them about the people following Jesus. They saw that some of his disciples were eating food with hands that were defiled, that is unwashed.
Now Mark, who's writing this down knows that there's gonna be some Gentiles who read this gospel. So he fills us in on what the big deal was, he says, basically, so you know, the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give because, Mark was not Jewish. So he's helping us Gentiles understand what he had to learn. The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial or this special kind of washing, holding to the tradition of the elders.
Now, I've got a pause in the storyline and explain this line right here because it's so important when you're reading the Gospels. There was a thought or a, it was really a myth, that when God gave Moses the 10 commandments, and when God gave Moses the law, the written law that God also gave Moses what would become what would eventually be called the Oral Torah, or the Oral Law. And this was hundreds and hundreds of extra laws to keep people from breaking the primary laws, and they were never written down. So it was called the Oral Torah, hundreds of extra laws that were passed down from Moses to Joshua, all the way down. And so in the first century, the leader of the temple leaders felt like they were the, you know, they were the overseers not only of the written law, the Torah, but all these unwritten laws, the Oral Torah.
Now, historically, there is no evidence that this actually existed. In fact, by the first century, it had gotten so big and there were so many, it was difficult for even the Pharisees to agree with each other what the Oral Torah was. So consequently, Jesus didn't buy it. In fact, his primary argument with it, with the Pharisees throughout his ministry is really not around the written law as much around this Oral Torah. He just didn't believe it existed. He just didn't buy it. Besides, many of these traditions made God small and made God look very petty. So, the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, "Why don't your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with defiled hands"?
So they had taken one of these laws that was never written down, that they had equated with the written law, and they're accusing Jesus disciples of breaking the law. So, all of a sudden there's this tension they show up, they're in the crowd they notice this and before they, you know, even begin having a conversation with Jesus, they begin to accuse Jesus disciples of breaking the law. Well, again, Jesus just isn't gonna have any of this because he knows their heart. And here's how he answered their question. He didn't even answer their question. He just kind of lit into him. He said this, he replied, "Isaiah was right".
Now, remember what's happening. They're quoting an Oral Torah, something that was just made up, he goes right to something that had been written in the book of Isaiah, which of course, they held in high esteem. "Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites". Now, I'm just making this part up. I think when Jesus said this, remember where they are. They're way up here by the Sea of Galilee. These men have made a long journey, I mean, and perhaps when Peter and his followers and the rest of the disciples saw that there had been a delegation set from Jerusalem, they're thinking, okay, we're gonna, you know, get some credibility. And as soon as Jesus opens his mouth, he just lights into them.
And I think Peter just cringe like, hey, we need to, hey back off a little bit Jesus, we need friends in Jerusalem, because the assumption was that eventually Jesus and everybody following Jesus would make their way from Galilee into Judea and ultimately end up in Jerusalem where he would proclaim himself Messiah. So the last thing you wanna do is make the folks in Jerusalem angry before you even get to Jerusalem. But Jesus doesn't back off. Here's what he says. And he says, "Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written". And this was, this was such an insult, because now Jesus is going to quote their Bibles to them. "As it is written, these people, honor me with their lips".
In other words, these people have learned to say all the right things. Because religious people, let's be honest, we learn to say all the right things. He says, "but their hearts are far from me". The kingdom of God has come near, but their hearts are so far from me. He would say "your hearts are so far from me". You will not recognize what God is doing because your heart has not been prepared for what God is about to do in your midst. Your hearts are so far from God, you're not gonna recognize your king, even though the kingdom of God is near. And he says this, he says, "they worship me". This was such a dig. "They worship me in vain and their teachings are merely human rules".
This is how we know that Jesus did not buy into the Oral Torah myth. He said, "you guys have just made this stuff up and you've passed it along generation after generation. But you've made it up, you're making stuff up, you're turning religion into a game that only you can win". And let's be honest, religious leaders are really good at that, aren't we? That we have the ability because we know the text to create rules and to make religion if we're not careful, a game that only we can win. And then he said this, and this is where it's gonna settle down on us. He said "you have let go". Or you've let go of the commands of God, the actual commands of God and you're clinging to and your holding on to human traditions. That you, have actually let go of what God actually said, and you're clinging to these human traditions that you made up, he continues, he said this, "and you have such a fine way of setting aside the actual commands of God in order to observe your own traditions"!
In other words, you have created religious loopholes that serve you and that are for your benefit. And then, again, I just think Peter, and the disciples just cringe, because at this point, then Jesus gets really specific, and he humiliates this whole group by citing an example of their hypocrisy. This is an example of where they made up a tradition that allowed them to actually bypass the actual law. So now he quotes the Written Torah to them. He says "for Moses" and understand Moses is their guy. "For Moses actually said" In other words, this wasn't oral, this was actually written down. "For Moses actually said, 'Honor your father and you mother", we call this the fifth commandment of the 10 commandments, right?
And what I want you to notice next because it's easy to miss is this, Jesus includes the punishment associated with breaking this commandment in Exodus 21:17. That when Jesus doesn't just quote this commandment, Jesus attaches it to the Old Testament or the Old Covenant punishment for violating this commandment, listen to what he says. And he says, anyone, For Moses actually said, "honor your father and mother". And Moses also said, "anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death".
In other words, ignoring one's responsibility to their parents, this was not a minor infraction. Now, it's so easy. It's so important for us to understand this, especially as 21st century Christians, that Jesus when he talked about the law, the Old Testament, what we call the Old Testament or the Torah, he never ever detaches the Old Testament law from the punishments associated with those laws. Lemme say that again, Jesus never divorces the Old Testament law from the punishments associated with those laws. Modern Christians do this all the time. We are really quick to reach back into the Old Testament for something we like, one of the laws or rules and bring it into our New Testament, our new covenant context, but what do we never bring with it? We never bring the punishments, right? Jesus says, it doesn't work that way. This is essentially what Jesus was implying.
In fact, he's gonna stay that later on in this book, he's saying, hey, you want the 10 commandments. You want the Torah, that's fine. But you have to include the punishment and the consequences as well. From Jesus' perspective, this was an all inclusive deal. It's an all inclusive meal. Now, by the way, this is super important. It's important to know, Christians, Christians, we do not honor our father and our mothers because Moses told us to do so. Moses is not our guy. In fact, as we roll through this gospel together, this is what Peter wants us to understand. Because as he's telling his story to Mark, he knows the end of the story. He knows about that final Passover, he knows about the crucifixion, he knows about the resurrection.
And suddenly, as he tells this story, so much of what Jesus said that made no sense to him, makes perfect sense in hindsight. He wants us to know that there's a new king, that there's a new kingdom. And along with this new king and this new kingdom, there's a brand new value system that came with him. And Peter was actually there, if you can imagine this. Peter was there in the end after the resurrection, when Jesus said something that they should have all just walked away from, except they had seen him crucified, and now he's living again. He said this, he said, all authority, this is amazing. All authority in heaven and on earth belongs to me that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
This was Jesus way of saying to his first century followers into us, I'm your guy. Moses was your guy, I'm your guy. That's why we don't honor our fathers and our mothers because of the 10 commandments. We don't honor our fathers and our mothers because Moses told us to, we honor our fathers and our mothers for different reason. Christians honor their fathers and mothers because Jesus instructed us to love one another the way he loved us, and your mother, and your father are part of those one another's. Okay, back to the story. Back to Jesus talking to the Pharisees, "for Moses actually said, honor your father and your mother and anyone who curses their father and the mother must be put to death. But you say", in other words, that's what was written. That's what's clear. That's what's been handed down.
But you say that if anyone declares what might have been used to help their father or mother is Corban, that is, devoted to God. Then he says, you no longer let them do anything for their father or their mother. Now again, we read that it's like, what in the world is he talking about and the interesting thing is this, Mark doesn't tell us what he's talking about. Because Mark was writing so early, Mark assumed his first century audience knew exactly what Jesus was talking about. Which means, again, it's evidence of the fact that Mark was written during the time of the eye witnesses. But here's what he was talking about, in case you don't know, taking care of aging parents, just like it is today was expensive, and it was time consuming.
So these religious leaders came up with a loophole, they came up with a fix, they came up with a workaround. And this is how it worked. And this sounds disgusting to us. They said, here's what you do. You dedicate all of your wealth, all of your current income and all of your future income to God, which means you go ahead and you give it to the temple. So now everything you own and everything that comes your way and everything you inherit, ultimately belongs to the temple. And then, but while you're alive, you have access to it. So it's yours to enjoy while you're alive and then when you die, it all goes to the temple. But that means, when your mom or your dad, or your friend, or your brother, or your sister, or your neighbor comes to you and is a need and needs your help financially, you say, you know, I really wish I could help, but I can't. Because it's not mine to give it all belongs to God.
And this infuriated Jesus, because they had come up with a loophole, they were taking their traditions and elevating them over the clear teaching of the law and the prophets. They were using the words that supposedly came from God to hurt the people that God loved. But, before we judge them too harshly, I have to ask you a question. And I have to ask myself this question. Have you ever sinned against another person? Or if you don't like the word sin, have you ever hurt or harmed another person, either intentionally or unintentionally? And then through some tradition or some thing that you've been taught by your pastor, priest or parents, you may things right with God, maybe through a prayer, maybe through giving or church attendance, or whatever it is.
So you've hurt another person, you do your best to make things right with God, but you never make it right with the person that you hurt or sinned against. Because after all, I mean, God forgives and God forgets, right? If you have ever heard a person, and you made things right with God, but you never went back and made it right with that person, here's what Jesus would say to you. And here's what Jesus has to say to me, in doing so, you nullify the Word of God, by your tradition. That you 21st century Jesus followers have created or you've adopted a tradition that actually conflicts with the clear teaching of Jesus because Jesus taught so many times, if you aren't right with your brother and your sister and Jesus disciples would come along after him and tease this out, especially John, if things aren't right between you and your brother and your sister.
If you've sinned against somebody that you can see, don't pretend that things are right with the one that you can't see. That you can't be right with God, if you're not right with the people around you. The way I've said this to you before is, hey, if you hurt my kids, if you offend by children, don't invite me to lunch, right? Don't invite me to lunch and don't call me and don't expect me to be your friend until you make things right with my kids. And your heavenly Father and my Heavenly Father is the same way. But isn't it true, that depending on how you were raised, if you were raised in any kind of religious context, you have some sort of mental gymnastics that you think make you right with God and I think made me right with God because of what I've been taught.
And Jesus was, hey there you go, again, you're doing what the teachers of the law did. You are leveraging a man made tradition. And you are taking it up further, you are giving it priority over the clear teaching of Jesus, which is, your love for the people around you. And the way you treat people around you is a reflection of your love for the god you cannot see. So, back to the story. Jesus says, thus you nullify the Word of God by your tradition, that you have handed down and he said you teachers of the law, you do many things like this, I could stand out here all day long, and give you examples of where you've taken your man made traditions and elevated them over the teaching of God and you think you're good with God and you're not.
And Peter, and the men with Peter, Peter, Andrew, James, and john specifically, they can't believe this. I mean, this is so offensive. And these men have come such a long way to finally meet with Jesus, and they've not even gotten to their first agenda item. But Jesus is done. That Peter says, we were shocked. He just turned around and he walked away. And of course, this was so disturbing to Peter, and so disturbing to the people who are watching. But I think Peter probably smiled when he told this story. He's 30 years after this story, because it was liberating, as well. And then as they're walking along, Peter said, Jesus gathered just the few of us together, and he began to tell us something that well, if he had told us earlier, we might have found it hard to believe. But we were beginning to understand where this was going.
Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and the chief priest in Jerusalem, and the teachers of the law. And Peter probably thought, and no wonder every time they come to see you, you humiliate them, and not only do you humiliate them, you call them out and humiliate them in public. So Jesus, if you would dial it back just a bit, we need friends, and we need friends, specifically in Jerusalem. But Jesus wouldn't dial it back. And here's why. Because the entire law, the entire temple system, the things that went on day after day after day in the city of Jerusalem, were all designed to point to him, it was all designed to prepare people for a coming kingdom, not a kingdom like they expected but a kingdom of God like they weren't expecting but they would be expected to embrace. This whole system was designed to prepare people for the coming of Jesus.
And they had corrupted the entire season, the entire system. And consequently, those who were supposedly serving the kingdom of God would not even recognize the king, or the kingdom that he was introducing to Earth. That he was coming to, they were to prepare the people. But instead of the people being prepared, they were confused. But in spite of that, Jesus would preach, the time has come, the time has come, ready or not, prepared or not, regardless of what's going on in Jerusalem, the time has come, the kingdom of God has come near. And this is your opportunity to repent and to believe so that you can embrace what God is doing this new thing that God is doing.
Now, we're gonna pick up the storyline right there next time. But I want us to talk about us a little bit because this is a really big deal. So let me just ask the question and use Jesus words to ask the question And this is uncomfortable, but maybe for you, and maybe for some of us, this is the breakthrough. This is the moment when we have that aha moment when we begin to understand what Jesus came to do. So let me just ask it this way, is it possible? Just be honest, it's just you and you. Is it possible, that you have let go of the actual commands of God and are holding to human traditions? Is it possible that you're guilty? Maybe it's not your fault, it's your pastor, preacher, it's your parents, it's your church tradition. But is it possible that you are holding on to the, that you've let go of the actual commands of God or specifically the commands of Jesus? And you're holding the human traditions. Have you come up with your own loopholes? Have you come up with your own way to set aside, the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions? In other words, is it possible that we are guilty of creating our own loopholes, our own fine print?
So to kind of drill down on this a little bit more, I wanna ask you three or four very uncomfortable questions. And I'm guilty of all of these. Do you ever try to figure out how close you can get to sin without actually sinning? Do you ever try in your mind as you think about the way that you've, you got? Do you ever try to figure out how close can I get to sin without actually sinning? What a silly game we play? How small this makes our Heavenly Father? How inconsequential this makes the death of Jesus for our sin? But we do this, don't we? In other words, how much sin can I enjoy without ticking God off? How close can I get to sin, without running God off? How close can I get to sin without having to apologize to God?
I want God in my back pocket, but I wanna have my fun as well. As soon as we begin thinking this way and trying to figure this out, we are guilty of the very thing, the Pharisees, were guilty of. How about this one? We already talked about this one. Do you believe or assume that there's some kind of ritual that makes you right with God with while removing your responsibility to make things right with other people. The way you were taught, the way you think, the way you've kinda manipulated the scripture, the way you've, you know, manipulated your religion. Do you believe there's something you can do that makes you right with God, you got a clear conscience with God, and God is good with you, while removing your responsibility to make things right with others.
Again, Jesus would say to us, there you go again, you have created a 21st century, or 20th century, or 18th, or 19th century, I don't know where it began, tradition that somehow in your conscience lets you off the hook, while ignoring what Jesus clearly taught. And do you know how this makes us look to outsiders? This is why so oftentimes Christians are considered, hypocrites because they know. Or how about this one? This one doesn't apply today. Do you feel guiltier about missing church or mass than mistreating someone at work? Do you feel guiltier about missing mass or church than you do mistreating someone at work? Every once in a while, you know, because of what I do, people walk up and say, Oh, I need to get back in church, I need to get back in church. And I feel like when they're saying that they think, "Well, you know, God couldn't love me or I'm not good with God, cause I'm not in church".
And yeah, everybody needs to connect to a local church, absolutely. But is there? Is there something in you because of the way you were raised that thinks you know what, God is happier with me if I'm at Mass, and I'm at church, in spite of how I treat people at work. If so, you have unknown, unbeknownst to you probably, have elevated a human tradition over the clear teaching or the command, not just in scripture, but from our Savior. And then last, are you banking on the myth? And it's a myth that God has short term memory loss, right? Because I grew up, I've told you this before, I grew up being told that you know, once you confess your sin, God's memory is erased. He cannot remember anymore. It's like, you did what? I don't even know what you're talking about.
And we, you know, people have taken this Old Testament idea that God has removed our sin from us as far as the east is from the west. And the whole idea of being forgiven by God is such a big deal and it's a real thing. But our confession, doesn't erase God's memory. And one of the reasons we love that idea is because then we're off the hook. We don't have to go back and make things right with other people. But let's think about it, if confessing sin, actually erase God's memory, then there will be things in the Bible that God didn't know about, right? You know that story about David and, you know, what's her name, I don't wanna say in case we erased God's memory, right? This is just silly.
And so this is why the invitation to follow Jesus is so extraordinary, because part of the invitation includes an invitation to be done with all of that ridiculous nonsense, to be done with making Gods small and God petty, to be done with the traditions that make us look foolish to people outside of our faith. So the decision to follow Jesus is a decision to do away with all of our silly games and all of our man made traditions. You have been invited, this is what makes this so amazing. You have been invited, and I have been invited and the world has been invited to participate in a kingdom. It's a kingdom of conscience, a kingdom of conscience that's informed by a single law, the law of Christ, that is so simple, there's not 10, there's not nine, there's not five, there's not three, there's just this one that's all encompassing.
That we have been invited to participate in a kingdom of conscience with a mind and our conscience that's fine tuned to this one idea that we're to love others. The way that God through Christ has loved each of us, that the one commandment, the thing that is overarching in all of our relationships, the way we spend our time, our money, our relationships, our marriage, the way we raise our kids, is that we are to love or treat other people the way that God through Christ has treated us.
And here's what's extraordinary about it. Here's what's brilliant about it. There are no loopholes, in that kind of love. There are no workarounds, there's no way to cheat. That We wake up every single day, we wake up every single day to this question. What does love require of me? What does love require of me? And what does love require of us? In every relationship, every time we interact with people in the community, every time we interact with people in our family, those are our marching orders. What does love require of me, and there are no loopholes in that kind of love. And when we fall short, let's not make excuses. When we fall short, let's make apologies.
So, if you've been playing the game, and I think we're all guilty of playing these games, and there're more games, aren't there? If you've been guilty of playing those games, hiding behind some silly tradition, hiding behind some silly mind game that you manufactured or you inherited from somebody that raised you or the religious system you grew up in, would you be willing to be done with that? And would you be willing to be honest with God, and would you be willing to throw up your hands and surrender, and follow? Because after all, the time has come this brand new way of living, this brand new way of thinking, the kingdom of God has come near, which means you are never far.
And the question for me every single day and the question for you every single day is this. Will we turn in the direction of this invitation to follow? And will we repent? And will we put our faith in the fact that God has sent someone on our behalf? And that the complexity of religion has been reduced to this one overarching powerful command, that we are to love as we have been loved, and we are never far from God, because his love for us is never far from us.