core values 3

We value a growing understanding of what the Apostle Paul calls, “the rule of love”, what Jesus calls the “Greatest Commandment”…

In this Greatest Commandment we are commanded to do two things: love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. I have been influenced, first by my own reflection and then by the reflections of others that this “rule of love” rises above absolutely anything else we might say about what it means to follow Jesus. As Jesus himself said of this commandment: “all the law and the prophets hang on these two” or elsewhere, “there is no commandment greater than these.”

The one half of this commandment is all about our relationship with God, a relationship that is all consuming (in the best possible sense). In other words, we love God with our whole being, spiritual and physical. We give ourselves to God in worship and devotion. We pursue God in the belief that there is simply nothing else that could or should rival his place in our lives. This includes private and corporate worship, of course, but it also includes our growth as people of the Book. Scripture is where we come to learn what it means to love God in such a way. Jesus said that those of us who truly love God do so by keeping his commandments. Obedience is our primary act of love. Obedience requires that we regularly, purposefully and prayerfully encounter and interact with God in Scripture.

Loving God in such way also requires our intentional worship of him. This worship is both private (devotional and daily) and public (corporately as the gathered people of God). This worship is Christ-centered, Christ-exalting and Christ-magnifying. There should be no doubt in the minds of any and all who join us for worship that we are, first and foremost, followers of Jesus.

The second half of this Greatest Commandment is about how we related to others. We are to love our neighbors. Who are our neighbors? Quite simply, when Jesus was asked that question he answered with what we call the Parable of the Good Samaritan. In that parable the “good neighbor” turns out to be the enemy, the one looked down upon and despised. The implication (if not the outright intention) of the parable is to show us that we are to be a neighbor to absolutely anyone in need, friend or foe. Jesus makes this even clearer when he tells us in the Sermon on the Mount that we are to love our enemies, not just those who are like us.

Love is not emotion in this commandment. Love is action. Love is verb that calls for action even when we feel nothing but the most intense feelings of hatred. It is choosing to do the loving thing when that is least what we wish to do.


At 10:26 PM, Blogger Dinger said...

I really like what your wrote, thank you.
It is so foreign to me to think of enemies. I cannot even imagine having an enemy in the sense that they did in the Old Testament stories. In any case, loving the unlovely, the boring, the smelly, the sick, the obnoxious and people like that gives us a special blessing. The blessing is not that we feel especially good afterwards, but that we can, if we allow it to happen, identify with Christ in each of these people, that we SEE Jesus in each of them and we allow ourselves to be loved and affected by who they are and what they want to give back to us. There is always a surprise in loving when we are doing that loving through God's power.


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