One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, ‘Which commandment is the first of all?’ Jesus answered, ‘The first is, “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall 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, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.’ Then the scribe said to him, ‘You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that “he is one, and besides him there is no other”; and “to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength”, and “to love one’s neighbour as oneself”,—this is much more important than all whole burnt-offerings and sacrifices.’ When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.’ After that no one dared to ask him any question.
Jesus is essentially posed this question:
Which commandment makes the keeping of all the other laws both possible and meaningful?
Jesus responds by using the word love. Love God. Love neighbour.
The way we understand love has profound implications for how we are to be faithful to this text in our neighbourhoods. If our understanding of love is shallow, our love of neighbour is shallow.
In our world, the word love gets thrown around like crazy. I love popcorn. I love playing my PlayStation 3. I love the Green Bay Packers. Yet, I also love my wife and son.
One of these things is not like the other…
If we take our whimsical cultural meaning of love, saturated more in feeling than commitment and obedience, we run the risk of missing out on the depths of love that Jesus is calling us too.
For us, Jesus Christ is the definition of love. Humility, sacrifice, obedience are all part in parcel with the example Jesus lays out before us both on the cross and in his earthed life as recorded in scripture.
This kind of love, that which we experience in the saving life of Christ compels us to action. It compels us to love our neighbour beyond good feelings and intentions.
How does your own understanding of love impact the way in which you love your neighbour? What does it look like?