As I’ve said before, I believe Jesus in a very pragmatic way. I believe that his prescription for world change is the only way it will actually change.
When asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus responded:
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a]38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
~ Matthew 26 [NIV]
I don’t think that’s the answer the pharisees were expecting. I think they were expecting something a little more showy, but that’s not the case. A very simple prescription was provided:
When you’ve finally figured out how to love God and live in that love, then you can, and will, love others.
Love your neighbor as yourself.
This is an incredibly simple idea. Two ideas, on which “All the Law and the Prophets hang…”.
I was reading in Romans about fulfilling the law through love. And for some reason it never quite jumped out to me like it did this time, but Paul writes:
“[the commandments]…are summed up in this word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is fulfilling the law'”.
So then I started thinking about the commandments, and like a well studied Christian, googled them to read through them to see how this really applied. They are as follows:
“You shall have no other gods before[a] me.
4 “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worshipthem; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
7 “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
13 “You shall not murder.
14 “You shall not commit adultery.
15 “You shall not steal.
16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
~ Exodus 20
The last one there in verse 17 could also read “his lawn mower, house, or BMW”, because that’s more our speed in America. The answer of the “greatest commandments” Jesus provided is exactly accurate to not only ‘keep’ these commands, but to live these commands.
If we all loved our neighbors, we would never murder them, we would never have a damaging affair, we would not steal from others, or tell lies or gossip, or want what others have — we would be truly happy for others.
To clarify what the Bible means when it says love, it is like this:
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues,they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
~ 1 Corinthians 13
Just before Jesus was betrayed and handed over to the Romans to what would be his eventual death [and ressurection] on the cross, he gave these words:
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
~ 1 John 13
…by this the world will know that you are my disciples.