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Mark 192 - You are Right

“Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

Mark 12:32,33

Ever had a bad day where nothing seems to go right? No matter what you say, no matter what you did, it just seems like the pool table of life is tilted and everything rolls away.

After all the negativity, after all the attempts to make Jesus stumble, after all the word games and silly illustrations. Finally, here’s someone who responds with positive words of encouragement.

This scribe agrees with Jesus about what’s the most important truths in life. And those truths start with who God is.

There isn’t a spiritual buffet to choose from. There’s only one choice on the menu, in the entire universe. There’s one and only one God. There’s no other. No one is above him, beside him. There is only one God. There are no co-gods, or assistant executive vice presidents when it comes to God.

And since there’s only one God, we have a certain kind of relationship to him. It’s summed up in one word: love. But what does love of God mean?

Love of God isn’t a feeling. It’s a relationship of humble submission and respect where we choose to follow who he is and what he says. This love decides that God is smarter, wiser, more powerful than we are. So, our default position is one of trust. We’re going to go the way God says to go. How he says to go.

We have a rarely used word in the English language for this kind of relationship. Deference.

Deference is where I give up my rights, my opinions, my power and opinions, choices, and direction to someone else. When I show deference, I drop my guard, I drop my rights and demands for the choices and leading of another.

When we show deference to God, we willingly submit to his legitimate power and superiority. We yield to his leading. To his direction. To his judgements. We recognize him for who he is, and who we are.

When we choose deference, there’s little “No” ground. We choose to say “yes” to someone else. We either choose to defer to him and all he is, or we choose someone else. Something else. We may choose our friends, the world, and all the popular ideas that are floating around. The latest and the greatest. We might defer to a certain political party or position. We can choose to defer to whatever’s on the internet and our my social media feed. We might defer to popularity, a high-paying job, power within the community. Or we might simply choose myself and worship at the alter of the unholy trinity; me, myself, and I.

And if we defer to God, then we will rightly and naturally give to people what we want for ourselves. We will treat them with deference, respect, admiration, and care. Just like we want to be treated.

We can treat people well for a bunch of reasons. We can do it because it’s the nice thing to do. It’s the right thing to do. Heck, it’s the good thing to do. And while I like to be treated well and with deference no matter the motive, there is a deeper reason to do it.

Because that’s how God treats us. He initiated life and a loving relationship with us. We prefer him to everyone and everything else. And because of that, we treat people like we want to be treated.

At the end of the movie Harvey[1], Jimmy Stewart meets up with his invisible rabbit. There is a short, one-sided conversation which ends with Jimmy saying, “Well, thank you Harvey. I prefer you too.”

Of all the people in the world, who do you prefer?

God’s person and position requires a personal response. We’re made to prefer him above all others. This kind of love, this deference, fulfills us like nothing else. Like no one else.

This scribe, for everything he’s ever learned, all he’s ever experienced, all he ever possesses, sees the God of the universe in very personal terms. He sees God as desiring and rightfully demanding us. And not just a part of us, but all of us.

There’s only one person that can fulfill all your deepest longings and desires. And that’s a loving and intimate relationship with the God who made you. The God who loves you. The God who died for you. The God who’s coming again for you.

He is worthy of all our love. All our choices. All our desires. He is the one and only right one for us.



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