I was listening to a sermon about passion. The question was, “What are you passionate about?” And I wrote the first draft of the following paragraph:
“I want my life to show that I’m more concerned about the first commandment than the first amendment, that I love God more completely than my rights. And I want my conversations to demonstrate greater commitment to the second commandment, to love my neighbor as myself, than to the second amendment.”
The sermon text was one of the places where Jesus walked through the temple and drove out the money changers.
The money changers were doing legitimate work. They exchanged Roman coins, with the picture of Cesar for temple coins. They sold sacrifice animals, allowing people to travel without having to bring animals. And they set up in a public part of the temple, convenient for the devout.
But they did their work for their own gain, likely taking more than they needed to. And they set up in the Court of the Gentiles. It was the place where people from outside the genetic family could participate in prayer. But the noise of trade was making things too loud for prayer.
Their activities of secondary importance interfered with the activity of primary importance.
Jesus was passionately indignant. “And He began to teach and say to them, “Is it not written, ‘ MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER FOR ALL THE NATIONS ‘? But you have made it a ROBBERS ‘ DEN.”” Mark 11:17 NASB
His passion was rooted in the first and second commandments, as he had listed them: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
Because I want to live in a way and love in a way that invites all nations to God, I need to be asking myself. “What am I doing that elevates the secondary and in so doing demotes the primary? How will I choose commandments?”