Maybe you’re a bit like I am. The dawning of a new year inevitably brings reflection on the one being put to rest. I think about the experiences that shaped the past year, and consequently shaped me.
The textures of our lives include those wondrously fitted-together moments—like the answer to a long-awaited (maybe very long-awaited) prayer, a job for a newly-graduated son, and the sweet satisfaction that comes from accomplishment. The hard blows—like the death of a loved one, the prayers in need of yet more perseverance, and the instances of rejection and failure make up the rough textures that threaten to unravel the fabric. These textures reflect either compliance or resistance (by someone) to the words Jesus spoke when asked, essentially, what was most important in life (Matthew 22:36-39).
The commands to love God with all our “heart” “soul” and “mind” and to love others as ourselves are of such significance that Jesus says every law that was ever given and every prophetic word ever spoken “hang on these two commandments.” This means that all of life derives its meaning and direction from these simple mandates. It reminds me of when I’m instructing students on writing paragraphs. I can’t stress enough the importance of constructing a topic sentence which supports all the other sentences in the paragraph. Likewise with the thesis for an essay. I tell them that every sentence in the essay hangs on the thesis. If it can’t be connected to the thesis, then it doesn’t belong.
You and I are writing a story with our lives. We have a thesis based on this passage from Matthew 22. Adherence to the structure of love God has given results in a rich, coherent text-ure. Rejection of it causes our sentences to become disjointed, jagged text-ures that can only be woven into the fabric by the cords of redemption. And because “no one living is righteous” (Psalm 143:2) most of us are in dire need of some redemptive re-writing.
So as you enter the new year, let me encourage you to stay connected to the thesis. Strive to let everything you do reflect your wholehearted love for God and his people. Let him weave all the textures you encounter to produce the masterpiece he wants to fashion in and through you.