“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these” – Mark 12:30-31
It is, arguably, the most concise & challenging command of all biblical writ. One that, if understood correctly, stretches our sanctification to its limit. I’d like to think the first part of Jesus’ directive is not the part that gives you and I the most grief. Without the blessing of having worshipped everywhere nor having joined in worship with everyone, I am willing to make the suggestion that all of us love our God very deeply. Where I think many of us tend to labor is in the “B” side of the clause. There are many who love God deeply but struggle with loving their neighbor.
Jesus offers these two commandments in response to a conversation He is having with a teacher of the Law. Offering clarification to a question the teacher asked about which of the commandments was the greatest. Jesus wisely condenses the 10 into two by teaching that if you love God with all you have and love your brother & sister the way you’d want to be loved, that by default you will not break the previously given precepts.
What we, as believers, often misperceive is the interconnectedness between these edicts. Though the 1st part tells us to love God with all that we are, there are many of us who love God as far as our comforts allow us. We often passively read into the text and interpret it to say “Love onto God with all of heart, soul, mind, & strength”. This mild misconception is what causes many of us to live out a faith that worships in deeply passionate ways on Sunday and loves in desperately prostrate ways for the rest of the week. So much so, that loving our neighbor becomes virtually impossible. How can the Christian love their neighborhood without a functional love of the God who created the neighbor?
We must allow the love Jesus calls us to stretch us into the places He desires for us to be, always questioning what the love of Jesus looks like in our homes, at our jobs, in our communities, and in every other facet of our lives. Even deeper, we do good to allow the accountability of loving our neighbor to expand our apperception of who our neighbors actually are. Doing this deepens our connection to the Divine and makes Christ more concrete to the world around us.
Our allegiance to Jesus must not only prompt and push us to love, but also call and challenge us to love better. Love in ways that do not passively exclude this who make us uncomfortable. As Christians, we must love God enough to love ALL of His children despite the difficulties their differences may present. The Lord is calling us to love in ways that do not require others to diminish who they genuinely are in the name of respectability.
As people who are the beneficiaries of the greatest example of God’s love, we ought purpose to love this world in the best way possible. When we do, the world is guided to be a better version of itself. The world becomes a better version itself, when believers choose to love better.