The Christian Loves God Above All Things
These are the readings for the Sixth Sunday after Pentecost.
(This Worship Help aligns with the lectionary readings from Christian Worship 1993 and Christian Worship: Supplement.)
God’s Word for This Week
The Christian loves God above all things. The Church prays for the love of God that we might always love him above all things. The lessons warn of the earthly ramifications of such love, but also point to the promised heavenly rewards.
Traditional First Lesson – Jeremiah 28:5-9
What was Jeremiah predicting about the city of Jerusalem?
Jeremiah had long predicted that the city of Jerusalem would face war, disaster, and plague because of their rebellion against the Lord. He said that there would be crosses to bear for God’s people.
What did the prophet Hananiah predict about the same city?
Hananiah was predicting (contrary to the prophets of the Lord) that Jerusalem would soon enjoy times of peace and prosperity. His message, of course, was popular among the people of Jerusalem.
Supplemental First Lesson – Exodus 32:15-29
Aaron had seen God standing on the sapphire pavement. The seventy elders had partaken of a divine banquet on the mountain (Exodus 24). And only forty days later, they lost it all. Unwilling to face conflict for God, they gave in to the people who wanted to love pleasure, flesh, and idols rather than the God who brought them out of Egypt. Aaron’s feeble excuses remind us of our own shallow rationalizations for failing to love God above all things. The Levites, however, rallied to Moses’ call and showed that they loved the Lord even more than they loved their brothers. Total commitment to God did not bring peace but a sword. Yet their devotion was rewarded by God, who gave them the high privilege of being his special servants.
Traditional Second Lesson – Romans 6:1b-11
How does St. Paul say we should regard our baptism?
Paul says that we should understand our baptism as being buried with Christ. Our sinful flesh has been crucified with him.
Since baptism means the death of our sinful flesh in this world, what can we expect from our lives in this world?
There will be many painful experiences as we continue to battle our sinful flesh and daily crucify it with a life of repentance.
Supplemental Second Lesson – 1 John 2:15-17
Do not love the world or anything in the world. How easy that is to say; how difficult to do!
The apostle John repeats Christ’s call for total commitment. Love for the world and love of the Father are mutually exclusive. Loving God, above all things, means recognizing that our cravings, lust, and pride come from this world, which will not last. So why do we put our love in things that are so transitory? Empires fall, desire wanes, relationships fail, accomplishments crumble. God calls the Christian to love him above all these things and receive a life that will last forever.
Gospel – Matthew 10:34-42
What does Jesus mean: he came to bring a sword?
Jesus wants us to realize that he is a divisive figure. People argue about who Jesus is and what he came to do. While many people in this world suggest that there is more than one way to God, Jesus is unequivocal: “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except by me” (John 14:6). As a result, one can either be for Jesus or against him. There is no middle ground.
Why does Jesus speak such thorny words in these verses?
He wants us to realize the cost of discipleship and to make an informed decision before we become one of his disciples. The life of discipleship is not an easy one. There are crosses to bear.