The First Commandment
‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Mark 12:31
Scripture: Mark 12:28-34
Whenever you read “the scribes” in the Bible, imagine a small-town lawyer. They were the local experts on the law as a means of structuring community life – marriages, divorces, contracts, mortgages, etc. Some assumed powerful positions as administrative assistants to the ruling class. In Mark – except in the case of this exchange – they were primary adversaries of Jesus.
Listen closely to how Jesus answers the question posed by the scribe. Jesus goes beyond Moses’ tablets of stone. Jesus cuts through to the more fundamental idea that lies behind and beneath the Law. Life is about BOTH loving God and loving our neighbors.
Jesus adds, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Life is about BOTH loving God AND loving our neighbor. Life is about love. Even the scribe admits to that truth.
History is full of examples of people doing atrocious things to other people even as they convince themselves that they are following God’s will. What’s love got to do with that?
The corrective to self-righteousness and tribalism is the call to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Jesus didn’t invent this idea. It is the logic of God’s grace, God’s mercy, God’s call to justice and righteousness. This is a relational, because/therefore, concept of God. Because I trust that God loves me, therefore I will love my neighbor.
Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Even if that means wearing a mask in public, social distancing, and purposely choosing not to gather people together in large indoor crowds. Even if that means not name-calling, scape-goating, blaming, misleading, or manipulating our neighbor.
If you think you are loving God while behaving unlovingly toward others, you are kidding yourself.
Let Us Pray
Dear Lord, to love you is to trust you, to follow you, to obey you, to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. Help us be loving today. In Jesus’ name. Amen.