It is not the environment or the circumstances, but the concept of the meaning of life that is fundamental to the course of our lives. Life remains dependent on the value it holds in the mirror of the mind. The way we live is the visible messenger of the invisible inner man. Every form of action is born of faith, and every form of faith is expressed in action.

“But someone will say: ‘You have faith; I have deeds’. Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds” (James 2:18). This is how the invisible faith in God becomes visible in the love of people.

Those who refuse to believe this live under the illusion that what is seen on the outside not only does not reveal what is inside, but can hide and communicate the opposite, like a cup that is dirty on the inside but appears clean when it is washed on the outside. 

Such madness! “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also?” (Luke 11:39-40).

In the realm of faith, when appearance collides with reality, one or the other dies. When something is clean on the outside and dirty on the inside, we are dealing with a deplorable form of filth. When what we live contradicts what we profess, we have a dead, inactive, ineffective, and putrid faith. “In the same way,” says James, “faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (James 2:17).

A church that is not beneficially present in the life of the community, from the town hall office to the cleaning of streets and public places, is itself “dead and busy burying the dead” (Matthew 8:22).

The duet of love

Faith in God and love of neighbour are not two separate things, but two parts of an indestructible whole. Jesus says: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40).

This is the duet of love on which the life and eternity of God’s universe are woven. With the phrase “like it”, Jesus emphasises the value your neighbour has in His eyes, regardless of the value he may have in yours. No matter how exalted the profession of faith, God will never receive the love, the gift or the worship of one who has passed by his neighbour in suffering, “paid no attention and went off” (Matthew 22:5).

God conditions and subordinates the reception of our worship to the state of heart of our neighbour, as we find in the words: “Leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them, then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:24). Loving God is the “first among equals” commandment, because loving one’s neighbour is “like it”, but when it comes to the order in which these two commandments are fulfilled, God gives priority to loving one’s neighbour. To love God is to obey His command to go “first” to be reconciled with your neighbour, and only then will your gift be received.

God never intended the life of faith to be reduced to church services. Our contributions to the church in the form of our tithes and offerings can never and must never be an excuse for our absence from the life of the city: “But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is Corban (that is, devoted to God)” (Mark 7:11).

The abolition of the commandment

Governments, which are called before God to care for the nations, have themselves become a terrible public burden. They are spending astronomical sums for occult and personal purposes, and when it comes to buying a vaccine for a child at risk of polio, the answer is always the same: There is no money!

But what is the position of Christian denominations in this matter? The Church began by giving all it had to help. “We are poor, but we make many rich,” said the leaders of the Apostolic Church. Tragically, although it began by helping the poor, in many of its roles it ended up robbing the “fallen among thieves”. Will the Church, which should be “eyes to the blind and feet to the lame” (Job 29:15), fail in this generation to live up to its calling before kings, heads of state and governments? 

The distinction between the “spiritual” and the “material”, the deification of some and the desacralisation of others, is not merely a violation of God’s commandment, but its abolition: “Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition” (Matthew 15:6), “then you no longer let them do anything for their father or mother” (Mark 7:12). Breaking the commandment to love your neighbour is no less significant than breaking any other commandment of God. Jesus said that love of neighbour is “like” the love of God. It would be inconceivable for us to have a different hierarchy from that of Jesus.

Once a person has started on the path of breaking one of God’s commandments, they will not be able to stop, but will go on to do “many things like that” (Mark 7:13). Ultimately, they will completely replace a “thus says the Lord” with a “thus says man”. Indeed, when a person ceases to believe one thing, they begin to believe another, and he who believes nothing comes to believe everything. It is not faith that changes, but only its object.

This road is very slippery and, as the poet Vasile Militaru says: “…it’s enough to slip easily / On the slippery slope / To fall for eternity / Into bottomless pits”. Those who slide down this path are deluded into thinking they can stop, not knowing that “sin will take you farther than you ever expected to go; it will keep you longer than you ever intended to stay, and it will cost you more than you ever expected to pay” (Kay Arthur). Having fallen into unbelief, they continued to fall. They came to mock God and finally found themselves fighting against Him.

The tragic divorce

Our denominational devotion sometimes becomes the most common and devastating excuse to close our eyes and ears to the cry of the hurting world. When the Pharisees urged people to give to the temple treasury even the money for their parents’ medicine or food, or when Judas issued a call not to “waste” and to save, the poor and the suffering are always used as a pretext. But the Holy Spirit says “He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it” (John 12:6). 

Rather than gaining God’s approval, he instead received a bitter “woe” from the heart of Jesus: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practised the latter, without neglecting the former” (Matthew 23:23).

We don’t have to look far to see that, in our minds, the so-called “spiritual” is often separated from the so-called “material” by a “chasm that cannot be crossed”. In general, the people of God are missing from the governments of nations, from the heads of large manufacturing companies, from the decision-makers of countries and the world. They are not humble, as they claim to be, but a product of the illegitimate separation of worship from service to the suffering. They see themselves as spiritual, but in reality they are willfully blind and unwilling to see beyond their denominational or cultic walls.

In the conflict between Corban and the commandment to honour parents, they choose to side with Corban, even if it means disobeying God’s commandment.


The concept of ubuntu is masterfully illustrated in Desmond Tutu’s book God Is Not Christian. This concept underpinned reconciliation in South Africa and averted the possibility of a very bloody conflict. Ubuntu means humanity as a whole, it means that I owe what I am to those who make me what I am, and that I refuse to enjoy myself without you. The life of Jesus is a powerful example of the divine unity of testimony and service to humanity. Jesus went from town to town and village to village, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom. The twelve were with Him (Luke 8:1), but the same Jesus “went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with Him” (Acts 10:38).

He was by no means socially indifferent or uninvolved, because He knew that the happiness and misery of thousands and millions of people depended on the political decisions of those in power. Social indifference is cruelty.

His love for the masses of people “like sheep without a shepherd” was greater than His own security, so when people told Him of Herod’s intentions, Jesus did not hesitate to hold up a mirror to the cunning tyrant. He sent an open letter to Herod, a message full of truth in love and an invitation to change: “Go [get involved] tell that fox [the truth about his character], ‘I will keep on driving out demons [a unique opportunity for you to be set free, too] and healing people [for the country] today and tomorrow [the invitation to love], and on the third day I will reach my goal [the end of grace]'” (Luke 13:32).

Here He sanctifies the legacy of Joseph, who saves the whole ancient world of Egypt from the genocide of the famine, as well as the legacy of Moses, the great liberator, and the legacy of Daniel, the sage and protector of the world under three empires, and that of the three princes of Babylon, the prophetess Huldah, who saved the people from disaster, and Esther, who diplomatically welcomed the martial law imposed under the cunning and hatred of Haman. Jesus wins the hearts of the great men of Asia, who become friends of Paul (Acts 19:13), the heart of the lawgiver Zena (Titus 3:13), and the heart of Manaen, who had grown up with the ruler Herod (Acts 13:1).

Most of His short journey on earth was spent in markets and villages full of suffering people. While people were stabbing each other behind “the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honour at banquets” (Mark 12:39) in late-night meetings, He was bending over the body of a man without a trace of hope at Bethesda. He was the living icon of the Father, and in those days, when people glorified each other for doing nothing, He proclaimed: “My Father is always at His work to this very day, and I too am working” (John 5:17).

Traditions and “man’s teachings” have brought Christianity to the point where service to God and service to the needy have suffered a tragic divorce. And just as God hates divorce, so He hates the separation of ministry in the church from ministry in the furrow of the world’s needs—things He has joined together! It is He who has ordained that the love of God and the love of neighbour should be together. People who separate the things He has put together are in fact separating themselves from the God they claim to serve and aligning themselves with the idols of their traditions. Nothing could be more eloquent than the anger of the members of the synagogue when their idleness on the Sabbath collided with the words of Jesus, “My Father is always at His work to this very day, and I too am working” (John 5:17). Helping the suffering was not against the commandment, but its fulfilment. Their neglect was alien to God and was, in fact, a violation of His commandment. “I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?” (Luke 6:9).

For Him, not to save a life when you can was evil, and evil is not in the nature of God’s character. “But they remained silent” (Mark 3:4). What was the reaction of Jesus? Only once in Scripture does it say that He looked around in anger and grief; i t was on this very occasion. He knew where such “faith” would lead: “He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand’. He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored” (Mark 3:5).

On the same page?

No one should underestimate the power of tradition or custom. It even dares to “rise above” the influence and the word of the One who spoke as no man had ever spoken and who did works that no man had ever done!

And, alas, it is not only the common man who falls under the spell of these traditions, but even those who “sat at the table with Him”. During the Sabbath service, Jesus had just healed a demon-possessed man who cried out to the amazement and indignation of many. At the end of the service, Jesus leaves with the crowd and enters Peter’s house, where He heals his mother-in-law who is severely ill with a fever. Many other sick people and those possessed by demons wanted to be brought to Him but unfortunately, many people back then, as now, thought that God did not work on the Sabbath, so only “that evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed” (Mark 1:32). I wonder how the sick must have felt when they heard from others that their suffering could be shortened, but not on the Sabbath? What must they have thought of the Sabbath? Did they know that the Lord of the Sabbath and these wicked and unforgiving Sabbath keepers were not on the same page?

In their theology, it was the Sabbath that was to be guarded, not the people: “I have means and ways to help you, but whatever I could help you with is forbidden because, alas, it is the Sabbath… Wait in your suffering until the Sabbath is over, and as soon as it is over, I will help you…”.

In the theology of Jesus, man was to be guarded and the Sabbath was to be used for his liberation: “I set you free and help you today, right now, especially because it is the Sabbath”. For Jesus, the Sabbath means both resting in the Lord and giving rest to those in the midst of suffering. “It is lawful to do good on the Sabbath,” He says. “It is lawful” means that it would be unjust to do otherwise, and “God is not unjust” (Hebrews 6:10).

Judgement by works

The last word on the union of love of God and love of neighbour is given to “the Judge of all the earth”. In the final judgement, He will not ask questions about people’s theological beliefs. The only questions the Judge on the white throne will ask are about how we have responded to people’s suffering. You will not be asked what you believed, but what your beliefs made you become. “For we must all appear before the judgement throne of Christ, so that each one may receive their reward according to the good or evil they have done while living in the flesh” (2 Corinthians 5:10).

Our theology is the tree; our response to human suffering is the fruit. “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, He will sit on His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on His right and the goats on His left. Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me’… ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’. Then He will say to those on His left, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me’. Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life” (Matthew 25:31-46).

Here the roads part forever. Which road will you take? Either you will sing the duet of love for God and mankind, or you will be the author of the tragic divorce between devotion to God and reconciliation with your neighbour. There are many footprints before you, but of all of them, tread on those that leave marks with every step!