The Lord Jesus taught something quite radical in the perception of His contemporaries: He had apparently reduced the entire Law of Moses and the Prophets down to only two commandments.
This obviously drove the strict religionists, those who couldn’t see spiritually past the end of their nose, right up a wall. They were invested up to their eyeballs in their voluminous religious knowledge. By this teaching He not only seemingly bypassed the entirety of Holy Writ, or at least put the vast law checklist in dubious perspective; He also completely subverted, in their eyes, the capacious and multifaceted oral law, of which only a distinct few were aware. To their chagrin, and with this instruction, He broke down the walls of the sheepfold and made the basis of spiritual knowledge and truth available for everyone.
But there is something else He did then that most of the Jewish teachers and many strict Trinitarian Christians miss. He once again equated Himself with God.
“And a lawyer stood up and put Him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?” And he answered, “YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND; AND YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” And He said to him, “You have answered correctly; DO THIS AND YOU WILL LIVE.” [Luke 10:25-28]
Did you catch that? The Lord Jesus told the lawyer the same thing He told Moses:
“So you shall keep My statutes and My judgments, by which a man may live if he does them; I am the LORD.” [Leviticus 18:5]
Let’s look at another passage:
But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together. One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” [Matthew 22:34-40]
Of course, the Lord never eliminated any part of the Law but He did fulfill it. He continued to honor all the commandments. He opened the eyes of many and brought the Law and Prophets into proper perspective by assigning priorities. For those, however, who were unwilling or unable to be led to quiet waters and lie down in green pastures, they insisted on their own imposed status quo and it blinded them to further truth.
Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question: “What do you think about the Christ, whose son is He?” They said to Him, “The son of David.” He said to them, “Then how does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord,’ saying, ‘THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD, “SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, UNTIL I PUT YOUR ENEMIES BENEATH YOUR FEET?”’ If David then calls Him ‘Lord,’ how is He his son?” No one was able to answer Him a word, nor did anyone dare from that day on to ask Him another question. [Matthew 22:41-46]
Judging by the extreme reaction of those great Pharisee teachers, something really strange took place on that occasion. One can almost see the popping and sparking of cerebral synapses and smoke coming out of their ears. They were at a complete loss and had no idea how to answer. Their vast repertoire of knowledge had nothing from which to draw. Their data base was empty of information on the topic. They had no idea, according to their own perception and understanding, how the Messiah could be both David’s Lord and his Son. They were absolutely flummoxed.
If one sees the Lord Jesus as God, then one will see that He must be loved with all one’s heart, soul, strength, and mind. If one sees the Lord Jesus as merely a secondary personage who is somehow less than God, then one must love Him as he loves himself. Whatever the case, one must at least apply the Golden Rule to the Lord Jesus OR BE IN VIOLATION OF THE LAW. And if one understands that the Lord Jesus truly is God, then one must love Him with all one’s heart, soul, strength, and mind OR BE IN VIOLATION OF THE LAW.
From this there is the inescapable conclusion that our lives are arranged and bear spiritual fruit in direct relation to how we treat the Lord Jesus and whether or not we love Him exactly as He loves us. He already demonstrated His love for us by giving His perfect life as a sacrifice to pay for our sins, which we could never do, and by this He purchased our salvation. He said doing this was the greatest love. Therefore, He has already fulfilled the Golden Rule for every single human being who has ever lived or ever will live.
But He did more than that. Though He did not need to, according to a strict interpretation of the Law, He actually applied not only the Golden Rule to us but the greatest commandment as well, in that He gave everything He had on our behalf—He loves us with all His heart, soul, strength, and mind.
The Scriptures say God is Love. The Scriptures also say Jesus is God. Thus, the Scriptures say that Jesus is Love and He obviously demonstrated that love way back then but has also demonstrated it ever since then and still demonstrates it right now. He loves you.
Even so, because the circumstances of this fallen world and the reality of this life are what they are, we are sometimes subjected to not so good things beyond our control. But there is no detrimental circumstance that has any bearing on His love for us. His love is greater than any such circumstance. Sometimes through faith we can overcome an adverse circumstance. But the first thing we do by faith is accept the possibility of real relationship with Him and move toward it. We take Him at His Word. We establish trust with Him. To complete the relationship-with-God transaction we love the Lord Jesus as He loves us. Whatever He did for us we must be willing to do for Him.
Follow His example—Love and obey Him with all your heart just as He loved and obeyed “the Father.” That is the answer, my friends.
Love never fails. [1Corinthians 13:8] 
© 2018 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
 Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love. [1Corinthians 13:1-13] 
© 2018 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
Much of what passes for open dialogue remains agenda-based, market-driven, and brand-centered. It majors on division and ignorance rather than love and an honest search for truth.
THE NEED FOR NEW WINESKINS
Concerned Christian people continue to discuss the fact that with each succeeding generation here in America, more members of the younger generation are opting out of church membership and decline attendance at churches. The claim is made that as many as two-thirds of young people are “walking away from the church” by the time they reach college age. I hear what should otherwise be quite learned and mature ministers speak about the American culture diverging from the traditional church to the point that a great divide has transpired and something within the American culture must change quickly in order to stop this process or all will be lost.
I say ministers such as these have got it all backwards. They are making excuses for their own irrelevance and inability or unwillingness to reach out effectively. They continue to insist on old wineskins and the rejection of new wine. Of course, many ministers and churches have long since watered down their programs to virtual nothingness in their efforts to be seeker friendly. They offer almost zero conviction for sinners looking to be saved. Their programs are essentially spiritually worthless though they may appear to be successful outwardly. Some of these have even managed to grow into mega churches using this approach. Instead of being salt and light, they have lowered themselves to the culture, which has absolutely no salt and no light.
THE REAL AND CORRECT APPROACH
This is the opposite approach that should be taken. The Lord Jesus never took this approach. He told the truth regardless of what it cost Him. Though He would go anywhere and talk to anyone regardless of their condition or station in life, He never lowered Himself to become like the culture but commanded that we must become like Him. That’s bold.
It’s the picture of an otherwise impossible, incredible personal strength bringing forth reactions in others of utter shock and soul-shattering conviction while wrapped in pure humility and grace.
This was the great love of God within a Man doing all to reach us, but with a heavenly respect we do not deserve and completely devoid of compromise. In other words, God is expressing His greatness and devotion by never changing or reducing His greatness but also relaying that He will pay any price for us even unto dying for us. Quick question: How many great and powerful people do you have in your life willing to die for you?
The reaction to the powerful presence of the Lord Jesus by the unrepentant evil forces was, as in accordance with natural law, opposite and equal. No one continually attacks a righteous man, for example, and eventually kills him in a rage if that man represents no threat to an evil kingdom and is the epitome of Mr. Nice Guy. Though warm and accommodating, the Lord is also the epitome of salt and light—spiritual salt with its powers of preservation and accentuation, and a shining light that both reveals the path ahead and exposes all the evil minions and their disguised and disgusting operations and enterprises.
When the Lord Jesus walked among them His commanding presence was greatly felt and duly noted. Sinners were scared. Demons were petrified. Strong men were taken aback. He was the opposite of the wimpy pastors of then and now.
They were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. [Mark 1:22]
“Never has a man spoken the way this man speaks.” [John 7:46]
Is the American culture growing farther away from God in a general sense? That argument can certainly be made although one must recognize the fact that there are millions of righteous people here existing in relative obscurity off the social media radar. They get little or no press. Their presence must be factored in instead of us going only by the great sins of the headlines and major media. Therefore, rather than the entire country about to fall off a cliff with no hope of a turnaround, what is actually happening is that there is a large contingent of unacknowledged Americans living their lives in such a way that better defines them as mountain climbers rather than cliff fallers.
This means the entire construct of a divided America being the difference between good wholesome conservative church-goers on the right who have been correct all along and should not even think about changing, and another group of largely young leftist liberal activists intent on replacing whatever remains of American traditional righteousness and morality is not only pure nonsense and completely wrong, it is not conducive whatsoever to bringing real spiritual solutions and honest communication. In addition, if one were to total up the membership lists of these two groups one would discover that they don’t come close to comprising all of America. One would actually discover that about half the country is missing and largely unaccounted for. Where are they?
Many are not attending church or marching in the streets. They simply don’t buy into the Divide and Conquer strategy put forth a few decades ago designed to drive major media ratings and earn corporate profits. This unrecognized population group also sees that untold billions of dollars are being wasted not only by bloated government programs but also by what may be termed ineffective traditional Christianity doing what it has always done, and it does not want to be a part of that scenario either. It may be that the bulk of these Americans are not avowed Christians but they have a level of righteousness that often exceeds that of the other two groups.
Many social justice warriors on the left thoroughly believe they have joined a righteous cause and some of their arguments are solid. Many conservative traditional Christians on the right have also proven to have solid arguments as well. The big unknown and largely undefined group of Americans that do not fit either category also have solid reasons for living the lives they live and believing as they do. The odds are that these three groups will remain separate and continue to believe their respective ways are the best, although I must note that the third is not actually a group by definition, but simply a collection of all those who are not in the other two. The first two groups, in a general sense, wrap their entire identities within their group’s practices and mores and are most likely to be more strident and less likely to change. They are forever stridently defending their positions against one another as if doomsday will quickly descend without their contribution and that the earth will blow up or Christianity will be destroyed. Thus, both reject any attempt at dialogue toward finding common ground.
COMMUNICATING WITH LOVE AND RESPECT
The third group? Not so much, which makes it unique in that it is often more open minded and willing to listen. It has not bought into the left-right paradigm and consequently remains free. And this is the key. Once one has jettisoned communication and refuses to promote dialogue and discussion with sincerity and humility, then one has eliminated the only means of bridging the gap. Remember, the reason someone came up with the concept of the political right and left is because the people on these sides have usually gone beyond the point of no return regarding the middle, which is supposedly inhabited by everyone else. (But I don’t mean the muddled middle, the dwelling place of apathy and a disregard for staying somewhat informed.) I am instead referring to the location which has no left, right, or middle compass bearings. This is the place where people can communicate with both sides and promote such communication. Though many reject the idea, it is actually possible to communicate with people in which one has no discernible agreement.
For Christians, isn’t this exactly what we are supposed to do? Did not the Lord command us to go out and witness and share the Gospel? And are not the odds fairly high that we will find disagreement in the process?
Real Christians understand that it is often the case that a person must be compelled to leave a burning, sinking ship only because he or she does not perceive that the ship is burning and sinking.
Real Christians are sent out on rescue missions knowing full well they may be blasted by the very people they are trying to help. It is that way in sharing the Gospel with non-Christians. Sadly, it is also that way in attempting to share truth with Christians. Both have their fallout. Elements of both will reject you. But opening lines of communication with both can also be richly rewarding.
I am glad someone was persistent with me when it came time to share the Gospel. I may never have met the Lord otherwise. And I am also glad that once I became a Christian other believers were willing to share more truth with me. Much of the latter, however, eventually did not come through personal discussion but by literature. This is why written works and books are so greatly beneficial. The authors thereof do much research, capture facts and truths of the ages, and preserve them on the written page which lives on after their passing. Books have an extremely long shelf life, pardon the pun, and exist as an excellent form of learning and communication though it is obviously not direct. Also, we live in a time when almost all preserved books and publications of the past, even the ancient past, can be accessed. This is proving excellent in the discovery of greater truth, especially when it comes to Biblical truth and the Lord’s teachings.
Up until the last few years we were all subjected for the most part to direct censorship and a complete lack of access to other points of view and the truths inherent within such truths. Now the only thing stopping a searcher of truth is laziness, a lack of spiritual hunger, or a stubborn attitude in insisting one already knows it all and has it right. The latter attitude is what has always caused evil people to gain control and authority over others and imprison them within the confines of fake knowledge, false interpretations and narratives, and downright propaganda. Indeed, using this particular means is how the devil is often most successful. Rather than communicate such people greatly prefer to repress truth and indoctrinate.
“Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.” [Matthew 7:1-2]
There is a right way and a wrong way to communicate. It must never be for purely selfish reasons. It must be because of a desire to help others. It must be because one is compelled to share truth and answers with those who are searching for it and need it. Communication must model the Lord’s method. He obviously knew His teachings would last two thousand years and taught in such a way to reflect that, and in a manner that translates into all times and cultures. We should all know that there is no law against godly love and most people will see no need to defend against it. This is why our communication will be incredibly more effective if we show forth the love of God and make the person we are talking to the object of respect and honor rather than simply wanting to win an argument.
The Golden Rule of Real Communication is that is must be based on the Golden Rule.
“In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” [Matthew 7:12] 
© 2017 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
There are upwards of 100,000 Christian believers in the nation of Iran by conservative estimates. The number could be considerably higher. There is a solid Christian underground that meets primarily in private homes. Evangelistic activity is strong but very risky. Witnessing for Christ is illegal.
The state religion of Iran is Shia Islam. All other faiths are essentially against the law, though Christians are singled out for extreme prejudice and hostility. They undergo discrimination in all areas, including housing, employment, and education. The government engages in the arrest, imprisonment, and torture of Muslim converts to Christianity who sometimes pay the ultimate price for their faith and obedience to the Lord Jesus. Under the strict Islamist regime, forsaking Islam is a crime punishable by death.
As in many other hostile nations, Christians cannot meet openly and are forever subjected to suspicion and betrayal, even by family members. Since Iran is over 98% Muslim, almost all new Christian believers are former Muslims and are routinely hounded by those of their former religion. Secrecy is often a must for survival’s sake, yet house churches are often raided. Due to the strong faith of Iranian Christians in light of such strong persecution, the suffering and scattering of believers spreads the embers of Christian light to more Muslims hungry for truth. Iran is ripe for revival and there is in fact a strong awakening taking place in the country. Many of the people have access to Western media and it is only a matter of time until a strong Christian presence is established.
This dynamic must be considered in light of the probable attack from Israel and Western forces that is currently in the making. Iran is a great restrictor of personal freedom, has a government-sponsored radical Muslim ideology, and makes no bones about its intentions. Iran is a powerful nation and has powerful allies who are pledged to varying degrees to supporting it against economic and military attack. These allies also share a general hatred of real Christianity though it be burgeoning in Communist China and India, as well as beginning to make an impact in other Muslim nations.
Muslims are coming to Christ in very large numbers, though this fact is rarely revealed in the major media. It is an unprecedented movement throughout Islamic countries and among Muslim immigrant populations and the pioneers are paying the price. Yet the Lord teaches us to outlast the enemy through constant victorious faith regardless of harsh conditions, suffering, and an apparent lack of progress. We also know that persecution always results in greater numbers and deeper faith of believers. Islam is doing itself no favors by attempting to stomp out Christianity, as it is only making it grow.
I remember being involved in the very early house church movement in America. I recall that the chief persecutors of the growing movement were not government authorities but established Christian churches, even those in the more “understanding” nondenominational sphere. Many churches co-opted the process by breaking their congregations down into home groups, but this is the opposite of true cell division. Some Christians went flat crazy against the movement much as radical Muslims do now. And it is for the same purpose — maintaining strict religious control to protect the organization, even if the battle is against the Spirit of the Lord.
Due to obvious circumstances in hostile environments, there is no other reasonable method for meeting to share the Gospel. The vastly expanding house church movement in America is indicative of God’s hand regarding our future. The community of the Lord was born in a house in Jerusalem 2000 years ago. The movement was illegal then also, both in Judea and throughout the Roman Empire. But the Gospel spread rapidly through small groups of dedicated believers and this very process is currently taking place in Iran.
Christians should therefore be careful of getting sucked into anti-Iran and anti-Muslim war rhetoric and propaganda since Iranian Muslims are the seed bed of Christianity in that country.
Though persecuted, our Iranian brothers and sisters are without doubt praying for their government leaders and those associated with fomenting the coming war, and are showing the love of God. They know war well in that the spiritual war has been raging in the region for decades. Iranian believers want to save fellow Iranians and their country for the Lord.
Let us remember that “Iran in the Crosshairs” also means Iranian Christians in the crosshairs. Would God use His “chosen people” in Israel against His sons and daughters in Iran? Such things are always more complicated than they appear on the surface. The Word of God has the correct answer on how to approach the conflict and the various people groups involved. The Lord has Iran in His own crosshairs for His own purposes.
Those who revoke and shoot down “Love Thy Neighbor” do so at their own expense.
“All those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword.” [Matthew 26:52]
© 2012 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [Part 5 of 5]
THANKS TO ALL FOR READING AND SPREADING THE WORD