Are you ever overwhelmed with the thought of doing everything Jesus asks? The key to following Christ’s commands is to rely on their simplicity.
Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law. For the commandments say, “You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not covet.” These—and other such commandments—are summed up in this one commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law. (Romans 13:8-10).
If you believe, as I do, that following Jesus Christ in obedience is a foundational aspect of the Christian faith, it can pose one particular problem. Namely, “how can I remember everything Jesus commanded”? If your personality is to be a stickler for detail, or you struggle with perfectionism, this can become a stressful notion.
The good news is the key to following Christ’s commands is keeping it simple.
The Simplicity to Following Christ’s Commands
It is not Christ’s intention to stress us out. He tells us that His burden is light.
There is a stress that comes from making things over-complicated that is detrimental. That is why Jesus blessed us by helping to simplify obedience for us.
Not to go on a rabbit trail, but it is important that a distinction is made between simple and easy. Jesus spells out being His disciple in simple terms, although we are dependent upon Him to understand (1 John 5:20).
There is a different type of stress that comes from things being difficult to attain. This is a kind of stress that leaves positive results. Think of a body-builder, thickening muscles, strengthening tendons.
Along this line of thinking, surrender and obedience is strenuous for us and requires endurance. It does not come natural, no matter how much we desire to follow Christ. But on the other side of it comes benefits; maturity, a deepening love for Christ, greater trust in Him, and ultimately, our heavenly prize (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).
The Common Denominator to Following Christ’s Commands
The key to following Christ’s commands lies in the ability to understand the common denominator in His commands.
Note I purposely did not call this the “lowest” common denominator.
We’re not talking about reductionism here, but simplicity. When Christ makes obedience simple, He is leaving nothing out. Instead, He is creating an umbrella of obedience, under which all his commands can be understood.
We are told that Jesus was once asked to name the most important commandment.
His answer was to love God with all your heart, soul and mind. And he followed that up with a second, “equally important” commandment: to love your neighbor as your own self.
At the end of this passage, Jesus adds a powerful statement. He says that “the entire law and all the demands of the prophets” are encapsulated in these 2 commands.
These are not only the greatest commandments – in them, we find that we can understand the totality of obedience to Christ. Everything else falls under this.
In our Foundations Series article The Mark of a True Disciple of Jesus Christ, we have an infographic that provides an extensive list of the commands of Jesus Christ in the gospels. We are sharing that graphic again here. It reveals this same connection; all of Jesus’ commands are related to the 2 greatest commandments.
The Vertical and Horizontal of Love
Since this is the key to following Christ’s commands, we can also trust that it gives us a blueprint any time we aren’t sure what obedience looks like in a given situation.
We are reminded by these 2 commandments that we have a vertical relationship (God) and a horizontal relationship (others) that continually requires our attention. And we may not remember every specific commandment of Christ, but we can remember these two.
In any situation, we can ask ourselves if our actions or interactions with God or others are truly loving. If we are maintaining a relationship with Christ and being purposeful in obedience, these are questions the Holy Spirit will help us answer honestly and with discernment.
Will it be easy? No, sometimes it won’t. God will chisel away at our selfishness and prejudices throughout our lives if we will let Him.
But it can be as simple as keeping 2 commandments in the forefront of our minds.
Of course, as we are diligent to spend time in the Bible, we can learn to a more specific extent the ways in which we can obey these 2 commandments, and we will be the better for doing so. In the meantime, we can always lean back on the simplicity of loving God and loving others as the key to following Christ’s commands.
More Bible verses about following God’s commands: