“My ground is the Bible. Yea, I am a Bible-bigot. I follow it in all things, both great and small” – John Wesley, from the Journal: “June 5, 1766

Happy renewing Bible Sunday to you in Jesus name. The Bible continue to change lives, calling people to repentance, hence Bible Sunday is a day on which churches celebrate the continuing impact the Bible is having on individuals and communities throughout the world. Today, the Gospel reading is a reflection on the first and the greatest commandment (Matt 22:34-40). The Bible, the greatest book ever inspired and written, a library of 66 books not only reveals God’s character but the truth about God’s Word and humanity. In an age that tend to discriminate and reduce Christian truth to our horizon, Bible Sunday reminds us that we live in a marvellous world created, redeemed, and sustained by a loving God. Bible Sunday reinforces and celebrates God’s call to do His work of mending broken hearts and loving our neighbours in practical ways.

The combination of the Pharisees based on their Pharisaical envy and malice gathered together to tempt Jesus. The needless question disputed among the critics of the law was, Master, which is the greatest commandment of the law? John Wesley in his sermon on Perfection saw Christian perfection in Jesus’ response, “Love the Lord,” to the question. To ‘Love the Lord’ calls for personal responsibility – heart, soul, and mind. The primary thing God asks of anyone who truly believes in Christ and receives His spiritual salvation is a devoted love that is expressed with one’s entire being. To love God reminds us of Wesley’s idea of the Christian perfection of which man and woman are capable while we dwell in a corruptible body.

Loving God ‘with all thy heart’ means God is the source and object of our greatest desires and passions; the core of our affections must be centred on Him. Loving God ‘with all thy heart’ means to be completely faithful and devoted to God and that His Words and purposes direct every area of our lives. Our love for God must be a life-directing love, inspired by His love for us – a love that caused Him to give His only Son for our sake (Jn 3:16). Loving God ‘with all your soul’ has to with the emotional longings and convictions of your soul ‘as the core of who you are – the real you – meaning that your identity must be completely’ one with that of Jesus Christ. To love God with our mind and strength invites us to serving God not just as a matter of emotion or feelings but a deliberate act of our will, serving God with our intellect, pleasing Him with thoughts, ideas and decisions based on His Word. Loving God may involve tough choices, ‘doing what you know is right beyond how you feel or what rejection you might face from the world.’ Loving the Lord with all our hearts, and with all our souls, and with all our minds is the sum of Christian perfection.

The love for our neighbour is the practical outworking of love for God. Christians’ love for our spiritual brothers and sisters in faith, our neighbours must flow from our primary love and devotion for God. Love for God is the first and greatest commandment, hence God’s holiness – purity, perfection, spiritual completeness and separation from evil, His purposes and the standards reveals in His Word must never be compromised in our efforts to show love to people.

Bible Sunday summons us to love God first and nothing we do to demonstrate love to others should compromise our devotion to God. Bible Sunday warns us against self-love which is corrupt, and the root of the greatest sins, and it must be put off and mortified. Bible Sunday warns us against the danger of loving God with our soul, mind, and strength as church workers without our heart as worshippers, hence the decline in the church. John Wesley was a failure despite his love for God with his soul, mind, strength but without his heart. When he experienced the miracle of salvation, of his warmed heart, Methodist revival emerged.

Bible Sunday also points us to “a self-love which is the rule of the greatest duty: we must have a due concern for the welfare of our own souls and bodies.” Sir Henry Williams Baker (1861) in one of his hymns, ‘Lord, thy word abideth,’ renders the Bible into song, reading and prayer to help us have a self-love as the greatest rule of the greatest duty in caring for our soul and body. Baker’s hymn like the Bible discourages us from settling for a little, self made picture of God and other idols. Baker’s hymn tells a joyous story about our lives being built enriched and transformed by a loving God through His Words. Let us prayerfully sing together:

1. Lord, thy word abideth,
and our footsteps guideth;
who its truth believeth
light and joy receiveth.

2. When our foes are near us,
then thy word doth cheer us,
word of consolation,
message of salvation.

3. When the storms are o’er us,
and dark clouds before us,
then its light directeth,
and our way protecteth.

4. Who can tell the pleasure,
who recount the treasure,
by thy word imparted
to the simple hearted:

5. word of mercy, giving
help unto the living;
word of life, supplying
comfort to the dying!

6. Oh that we, discerning
its most holy learning,
Lord, my love and fear thee,
evermore be near thee.