An Essential Resource

Bookshelves

I’ve noticed a trend in “Christian” marketing. If you want to be sure people buy a product, just label it as an “essential resource.”

I did a quick search for Christian books that include the phrase “essential resource” in their descriptions, and I came up with almost 1,000 results. That’s about four large bookshelves packed full with resources that are all “essential” if you’re a Christian.

Better get reading!

Seriously though, I wonder if these marketers actually understand the word essential? According to Dictionary.com, it means “absolutely necessary; indispensable.”

In other words, if something is truly essential, that means we cannot possibly do without it. Essential is like having a power source for an electronic device. It just won’t work otherwise.

So it’s funny how believers have been following Jesus for 2,000 years before most of these “essential resources” came around.

In Ecclesiastes, Qoheleth gave a very clear summary of the true essentials.

The writing of books is endless, and too much study is wearisome.

Now that all has been heard, here is the final conclusion:
Fear God and obey his commandments,
for this is the whole duty of man. (Ecclesiastes 12:12–13, LEB)

We could expand that a bit with the words of Jesus regarding God’s commandments.

“‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment.

And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:37–40, LEB)

And that first commandment is fulfilled through the second commandment. We love God by showing love to everyone else.

“‘Truly I say to you, in as much as you did it to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me.’” (Matthew 25:40, LEB)

Thus Paul could write the following:

The whole law is fulfilled in one statement, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:14, LEB)

So what is essential for Christians? Love.

And the Holy Spirit residing in us is the only truly essential resource we need to produce that love.

I’m all for good Christian books. You’ll find me promoting them on this blog (and on my free Christian books blog) quite regularly. But none of them are essential.

Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been fathered by God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. By this the love of God is revealed in us: that God sent his one and only Son into the world in order that we may live through him. In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God resides in us and his love is perfected in us. By this we know that we reside in him and he in us: that he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.

Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God resides in him and he in God. And we have come to know and have believed the love that God has in us. God is love, and the one who resides in love resides in God, and God resides in him. By this love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment, because just as that one is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear includes punishment, and the one who is afraid has not been perfected in love. We love, because he first loved us.

If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar, for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen is not able to love God whom he has not seen. And this is the commandment we have from him: that the one who loves God should love his brother also. (1 John 4:7–21, LEB)