Dirty Little Secret
You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Leviticus 19:18
In Alcoholics Anonymous, I learned that an addict or alcoholic can have sobriety without recovery. This means that I can avoid active addiction to a drug without ever addressing any of the defects that led to addiction in the first place. In this condition, I may not be using, but the dirty little secret is that I’m not living in freedom at all. I’m still enslaved to all of my other defects.
I can do this with my faith as well. If I just avoid certain behaviors, I can tell myself that I am a good Christian without every following Jesus’ commands. If I avoid the big sins: drinking, smoking and sexual sin, then I can feel quite good about myself. I can even look down on those who struggle. I may not be committing the big sins, but the dirty little secret is that I call myself a Christian without actually following Christ.
When asked about the greatest commandment, Jesus said we must love God above all. Then, He quoted the Old Testament, today’s verse, saying that we must love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:39). We are of course, supposed to avoid destructive behavior, but that behavior is destructive, and we are to avoid it, because it prevents us from obeying Jesus’ commands.
It is frankly, just easier not do the bad things, than it is to obey Christ’s command to love others. It requires self-sacrifice to love our neighbors. Most of us are just too selfish to do this. If I were the devil, I would find just as much success using our selfishness to prevent us from loving our neighbor as I would in using it to get us to use drugs, smoke or commit adultery. If I could paralyze Christians from following Christ, my job, as the devil, would be done.
If we want to truly follow Christ, we must not just avoid a list of bad stuff, we must also do. We must love God and we must love our neighbors.