The Art of Living Is Loving

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(Photo: Daniel Fusco)Daniel Fusco, lead pastor of Crossroads Community Church in Washington

The needs you experience are invitations.

Let me explain. All of us are created with deep, profound needs, so naturally we seek to satisfy those needs. But unfortunately, we often seek to satisfy those needs in ways that are not only unsatisfying, but also sometimes downright harmful.

We often mistake distraction for satisfaction! But a need deferred or ignored is not the same as a need fulfilled. That's why Jesus invites us into God-designed ways of living that will meet our needs as nothing else ever can.

But it's up to us to respond to this invitation to join him on the journey.

And don't miss the fact that God's way of living is also the way of loving. God intends us to live in three directions — upward, inward, outward. That's the movement described in the greatest commandment. Loving God takes us up, learning how to love ourselves takes us in, and then we go out and love our neighbors.

We don't just live in three directions — Jesus invites us to love in three directions.

Your deepest, most fundamental needs are invitations to love upward, inward, and outward.

And to properly respond to that invitation, we must be intentional about God and how we satisfy our needs. Instead of drifting through life or merely reacting to whatever happens to come our way, we need to figure out what's best . . . and then do that!

Jesus understands that we need to know what life is about. All of it, and not just a single season, because our seasonal answers are insufficient.

When we're teenagers, for example, we think life is all about the superlatives. We hope life grants us an identity such as smartest, coolest, funniest, hottest, fastest. That's how it was for me, anyway, at Cedar Ridge High. When the yearbook came out, the first section we'd flip to was the class awards. And in 1994 I was finally immortalized with my own superlative: Most Unique.

For a former baseball jock who was too cool (and stoned) to play senior year, this was the pinnacle. Sure, student representative to the district school board was nice. Homecoming king was sweet. Student council president didn't get me a lot of dates, but it would look good on my college applications.

But doing all those things in plaid pants and dreadlocks? Most. Unique. Ever.

What I didn't understand at the time was that I wasn't the most unique . . . and neither was anyone else!

All of us at Cedar Ridge High were just kids trying to find our place in the world. However we tried to construct that, we were still searching for meaning and purpose. We wanted to understand the art of living, but our methods were about as helpful as trying to empty a swimming pool with a coffee cup.

Too often we humans are satisfied with small definitions. Over the years I've inhabited many different roles: athlete, prep, stoner, musician, wanderer, pastor. None of those roles is the answer to life for me. The answer, in all those roles, is to practice the art of living. o embody the greatest commandment and satisfy my God-given needs by living upward, inward, and outward.

Which takes us right back into the scripture we're looking at. Reread the second half. The scribe considers Jesus' answer, and he's like, "You're right, teacher. I agree! What you've said is the most important thing in the world!"

And then what Jesus doesn't say is, "You agree? Great, it's a done deal."

Instead he thinks about the scribe's wise answer and then says, "You are not far from the kingdom of God" (verse 34).

In other words, outside the Kingdom of God. Not yet living there, as an insider.

But here's the astounding part: Jesus' words are an invitation, not a condemnation. Jesus is saying, "Come closer. Don't be far away. Let me work in your life. You're almost home."

Taken from Upward, Inward, Outward by Daniel Fusco. Copyright © 2017. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Daniel Fusco is Lead Pastor of Crossroads Community Church in Washington. He is renown for his viral facebook videos that contain short 2-minute sermons. His sermons also air globally on TBN every week. He is also the author of a new book, Upward, Inward, Outward: Love God, Love Yourself, Love Others.