What does it mean to audaciously love Jesus? Beth Moore, in her latest book, Audacious, seeks to explore this question. In this exclusive excerpt from Audacious, you’ll find inspiration on how to love God and people, as addressed in Mark 12:28—31. Don’t miss your chance to win one of five signed copies of Audacious—this giveaway closes February 5.
One of the scribes approached. When he heard them debating and saw that Jesus answered them well, he asked Him, “Which command is the most important of all?”
“This is the most important,” Jesus answered:
Listen, Israel! The Lord our God, the Lord is One. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.
“The second is: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other command greater than these.” (Mark 12:28–31)
The tendency of our human nature—at its best—is to reverse the order and make the second command first and the first command second. In other words, first love the ones you can see, then love the One you can’t. It seems perfectly reasonable but, in the exchange of places, we choke the supply and toss the filter. The irony is that the second most important command cannot displace the first without robbing itself. To love God more is never to love people less. It’s to love people best. It’s to relieve them of the responsibility of being your false Christ. It’s to keep their sins against you from being unforgivable and your sins against them from being ignorable. It’s to guard them from our mean-streaks and strong human tendencies to respond to disappointment with punishment. It’s to keep the people close by from cutting their wrists on the razor-sharp blades of our insecurities. It’s to dull the edge of our cravings to be adored. It’s to untie the double knots of codependency. It’s to let the affirmations of others be the overflow and not the essential source of our emotional survival. To love God is to guard man.
Divine affection is a floorless wellspring with the capacity to water every inch of ground your life will ever cover. It makes you capable of loving someone you can’t and appreciating someone you don’t—and not because God suddenly gives you a case of cataracts to keep you from seeing what drives you crazy. God’s love is not blind. Divine love outsourced to human hearts is smart, knowing, and discerning. It is not capped but it is also not easily conned. True love sees. You set your sight with laser-thin focus on Christ alone and, suddenly, your peripheral vision tears wide open and, there, staring straight ahead, you catch a glimpse of an entire vista.
For with You is life’s fountain. In Your light we will see light. (Ps. 36:9)
The catch is, you plant your feet on a land of these wonders only on the other side of faith. We are called by Jesus to jeopardize everything we have and everything we are on this one supreme love, counting all else as loss for the surpassing value of knowing Christ. Only after the risk do we discover the reward: with Him came everything else of ultimate value. Jesus gave voice to a promise in Matthew 6:33 that we can press against our pounding hearts when we fear what we could lose:
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.
To clip the concept in this chapter into its simplest terms, to audaciously love Jesus Christ is not only the best thing you could ever do for yourself. It’s the best thing you could do for those around you even if, at first, they beg to differ. Every relationship in your life stands to benefit from your bold, adventurous affection for Jesus Christ [Click to tweet!], not because you will run them down with a gospel eighteen-wheeler, but because you will walk the gospel out right in front of them. Audacious is not obnoxious. If our spiritual fire burns people instead of warming them, we have zeal without knowledge. When time affords us the luxury—and it doesn’t always—the most effective gospel is show and tell [Click to tweet!]. You share Jesus with your heart by the way you love, with your hands by the things you do, and, yes, of course, you share Jesus with your mouth. Sooner or later, you won’t be able to keep from it. Audacious love unties the shiest tongue.