Steven Covey — the popular American educator, author, businessman, and keynote speaker who wrote “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” — is well known for advising people that “the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”
But Steven Covey wasn’t the first to assert this best practice for life. In fact, Jesus said pretty much the same thing when he summed up the main thing in the Great Commandment and in his last supper with his disciples.
So, of out of all the things Jesus taught, what would be the main thing?
It’s so simple it can be easy to miss. It’s just one word: Love.
“Love the lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.” (Mark 12:30)
“Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:31)
“Love one another . . . just as I have loved you.” (John 13:34)
For Jesus, it’s clear that love is the main thing. It is also love that is the primary mark of discipleship: “by this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)
And, when Paul later describes what a life well lived — the Christian life — looks like, he uses the image of a tree bearing fruit. “The Fruit of the Spirit,” he calls it. And when he lists the nine aspects of that fruit, the very first one is love. (Galatians 5:22)
If we are living as disciples of Jesus, striving to live our lives in the way Jesus calls us to live, then love will be evident in our lives.
Love is not always that easy, though, is it? There are most certainly challenges in loving one another. Sometimes there’s the mildly irritating — like that guy who cuts us off in traffic or Jerry Seinfeld’s infamous “close talker.” Sometimes it’s heartbreaking — like when a family member hurts us in terrible ways or a friend betrays us.
Rev. Dr. D.L. Dykes, one of my very first mentors, put it this way when speaking of a troubled and troubling person in his life: “That person is much easier to love at a distance.”
That’s the way it is, isn’t it? And we all know loving someone who is difficult to love never means putting ourselves in danger or allowing that person to hurt us even more.
So how do you love someone like that?
What does love look like, “at a distance?”
If love really is the main thing, what does that mean for us in our day-to-day life and love challenges?
I look forward to exploring all of these facets of “The Main Thing,” with you this Sunday in the Sanctuary.
Grace and Peace,
John 13:31-35 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
31 When [Judas] had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. 32 If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. 33 Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ 34 I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”