Love God. Love Others. I know you’ve seen it on a bumper sticker, but these four simple words hold all of the teachings of Jesus and how we are to treat each other.
28One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’There is no commandment greater than these.”
32 “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33 To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
34 When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.~Mark 12: 28-34 (Emphasis added by author)
Now notice, first you are to LOVE GOD with ALL that you are. Next we are to love our neighbor. Jesus took the Ten Commandments, shrunk them down and made them easy and simple as He did will all of His teachings. Love God. Love Others.
But, what exactly is a neighbor? Was Jesus referring to the guy who’s lived in the next house over for six years? To answer my question, I called on good ol’ Merriam-Webster.
Definition of NEIGHBOR
1: one living or located near another (Okay, so yes. Jesus was talking about the guy next door.)
2: fellow man
Definition of FELLOW MAN
Matthew 5:43-48 (New International Version, ©2011)
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
This was not a new teaching. The LORD said it back in the Old Testament:
Leviticus 19:18 (New International Version, ©2011)
18 “‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.”
Jesus tells us to love ALL people. Not just the nice ones, or the “deserving” ones. Ouch. I know it’s hard. But, we have to.
To love those who are nice is easy. But to love those who get under our skin, who are unrighteous, who do not follow any teachings let alone the teachings of Christ, that is when we show our Father’s true glory. His true heart.
6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. -Romans 5:6-8, NIV, ©2011(Emphasis added by author)
Jesus loved His Father with all His heart and with all His soul and with all His mind and with all His strength. And, by dying on the cross for us, He truly and undeniably loved His neighbor as Himself. Were we deserving?
During this Resurrection Week, discover the love Christ has for you and all those born on this earth. The righteous and the unrighteous. When you love God first, He will show you His love toward His children. Don’t worry. He loves us all so much, that He took all our sins and iniquities for us, died for us and rose on the third day for us whether we believe He did or not.
Heavenly Father, may your truth leap out at us today. May your glory shine for all the earth to see, and may we be your humble vessels to use during this time you’ve placed us in. May we love you with our whole heart and truly understand what it means to “love our neighbors as ourselves.” In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen!
Are you having trouble “loving your enemies?” What gets in the way of loving others as Jesus intended? Blog about it below.
Doing my best to “love my neighbor as myself” (with God’s help),
~Bohemian Christian Chelle