The Dialogue on Christianity
The Ultimate Test
John was taken aback by Bryan's description of his condition. What could be hopeless than facing a huge debt of sin with more sin being added to it daily? He asked...
John: What was that?
Bryan: It was this. Someone asked, "What is the greatest command of all time?" I immediately thought, "Surely I am keeping this one, if it is so basic, so fundamental a command." But I was surprised at what I found. The answer given was from something Jesus said: "The greatest command is, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength." That troubled me. I felt that I loved Godat least I thought that I must love Him if I even wanted to be with Him in heavenbut those qualifying statements really bothered me. Did I love Him with all my heart? Impossible.
John: What are you saying?
Bryan: I mean that I began to see that I wasn't even getting close to loving God with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength. Now, I knew, of course, that any sin against God was worthy of penalty. But I thought I could outweigh the penalty with good thoughts and actions. But then I found that not loving God was the most pervasive sin of all and that I committed it all the time. God is the highest authority. So here is the highest command from the highest authority, and I was breaking that command every dayevery minute! I couldn't get around that. Every time I broke a lesser command, I was breaking the greatest command!
John: I don't quite understand that.
He did understand it. He was afraid-afraid of hearing something that would cost him or disappoint him, yet enjoying the flow of this conversation on the other hand. He wanted intensely to know. All the talk at work was so superficial, protected. This was provoking and important. Was he acting too eager? For the first time he was getting answers that he could understand. His posture changed indicating that he was not through. He didn't want this to end.
Bryan: You see, I knew the teaching that Jesus gave when He said, "If you love me, you will keep my commands." So, I was seeing that my so called "small sins" (and there are differing degrees of sins) were really coupled with the biggest onethat of not loving God. To sin in any way was not to love God with all my heart. Every sin was a double sin, joined to the worst sin. I felt really bad about all of that. I was very uncomfortable thinking about it. It seemed that all I did stemmed from an unloving heart, even when I tried to do good things. If the root was wrong, the fruit must have been wrong also.
So you see I was pretty well boxed in! I had years of sins before my reformation which were not forgiven, and I was even sinning while I was trying to reform. And the sin I was doing was the worst kind of sin since I was breaking the greatest command of the highest authority nonstop.
John: And so what did you do?
A light beamed through the room. A car was turning around in the neighbors drive. He glanced at the light but didn't comment. Light was what he needed now. He repeated,
"What did you do?"