Love One Another

“Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.                                                                                             Deuteronomy 6:4-5

And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”                                                                                                           Mark 12:30-31

 You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name.  This is my command: Love each other                              John 15:16-17

As a special treat to my readers this Christmas season, I have the pleasure of having my daughter join me in this blog today. Indeed, the topic was her idea….

In all the controversy these days about the Christian message to the world, and frankly the misuse and misunderstanding of what the Bible says about how God would have us to live, there remains this thing.

Love one another.

In the Old Testament, the message from the famous Shema of Jewish tradition remains as a pillar of how we can understand God. His message has always been, “Love one another”. The passage in Deuteronomy indicates that we are commanded to love God. When it was reiterated by Jesus in the book of Mark, and again in John, Jesus made it clear that love was not an option, nor is it a feeling that we have. It is a sacrificial decision that we make. Jesus expanded the Shema to include the second part as equally important – “Love your neighbor as yourself”

So, if you want to know the Christian message (not the “thou shalt nots”, but the “thou shalls”), and how God would have us live in the world, be aware that the formula has been repeated many times.

When the world hands us a dose of political or religious vitriol, Jesus hands us love. When we are divided by race, ideology, economics, or gender, Jesus comes in and unites us with a simple message of love. In this world where social media entices us to debate, outwit, out smart, or out do one another, Jesus says “Where there is any uncertainty, just choose love.”

Even within the Christian church, there has been much division about how to welcome those who don’t look like us, worship like us, or love like us. Our natural human reaction is to build rules around love: you are welcome if you vote like me, look like me, marry like me, live in a home like mine. But there is no model from Jesus for these kinds of rules. We saw Jesus approach a woman at the well who carried shame, and he welcomed her. We saw Jesus love and heal the paralyzed man who was dropped thru the roof to reach him; quite an unconventional approach, but it phased Jesus none at all. Indeed, we saw this loving Jesus flip the tables as a sign of his disapproval of the business of the church that was drawing attention away from love and towards bank accounts instead.

There is so much that is confusing in this world today, including the church that so many of us grew up in. While we may never fully understand it all on this side of heaven, Jesus provides us a way through. He offers us the holy way of love. Just love. Just listening and holding space for each other. That’s it. It doesn’t have to be a battle. Jesus says to us, “Where there is any doubt what way to choose, choose love.” There is no greater command.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for the love you have shown to us through the ages, Amen

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