Ever hear the saying, "Can't see the forest for the trees."? The saying can also be offered backwards too. In the former version, one can miss the big picture while focused on the minutia of the project. These are folks who immerse in every detail of a job but never realize a global perspective of how the many form the one. In the latter version, one can be so engaged in the vision of the finished product but miss the inner workings of the project. These folks have difficulty connecting on a one to one basis and are often thought of as distant. Christians need to pursue a mixture of these two components of thought. In some ways, the greatest commandment seems to harken to this notion. Take a look.
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with
all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest
commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets
hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:36-40, NIV)
On one hand, we are to love God who is spirit and in many ways the 'forest'. All that we are and all we have comes from God. God desires our love and allegiance, but the one definitive way we express our love for God is through interaction with people around us. Figuratively, people are the trees in the greater forest called God. Yes, it may be true that I have too much coffee in my system today. I am talking nonsense for some of you. Bear with me; I am mostly sane.
We're teasing apart the difference between Christians who dwell in church pews but never engage the broken culture nor make any profound transformative difference versus those who roll up their sleeves and go get dirty on behalf of God's kingdom. Both kinds of Christians love God, but those who actively engage their neighbors are validating their faith by some visible action. James had some things to say about this:
"What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save
him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish
you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the
same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead." (James 2:14-17, NIV)
Moving forward in our faith requires a fully orbed approach of loving our God and our neighbors. Loving God as vertical and loving neighbors as horizontal relationships if combined form a cross which represents Jesus Christ.
Live today as one who bears the image of Christ. The image of the cross signifies our dying to sin and self and living for the one who hung on this instrument of death. It is the best way forward.