Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Matthew 22:36-40 -- On Love First

"Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
This is the first and great commandment.
And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."
Matthew 22:36-40


These verses are interesting.  Even though someone was trying to catch him in a contradiction, Christ decided to answer the question clearly... because it is a good question. :)  What is the most important commandment of all of them?  And of all the things that God has asked us to do, he narrowed it down for us.  The absolutely most important thing is to love God, with everything that we are.  Perhaps emotions, spirit and body, and thoughts.  All of those should be dedicated to loving God.  What does that mean for us?  I think perhaps that love isn't just an emotion... love is active, and involves all of you.  When you love someone, especially God, you have to dedicate emotion, spirit, action, and thought to the relationship.  We can't just say a quick prayer at the beginning of the day and then forget God.  Think of what it is like to love.  Not just romantic love, but family love and friendship love too.  You want to spend time with the person.  You want to talk, you wander through the store and see something they would like because they are not far from your thoughts.  You take actions to make those things happen.  You often feel a spiritual bond with them, and always an emotional one.  How would our lives be changed... how would even one day be changed, if we felt like that, actively, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally devoted to God?  I think our whole lives would be changed... and overwhelmingly for the better.
And the second is like unto it.  ... Sometimes we think that other people can be dismissed if they aren't in our families or they aren't within our established circles in some way.  It's okay to dislike the person you're yelling at on the phone, right?  Or the person who smells bad, or the person who snores in church.  How about that person at work who doesn't do half as much as you?  Or maybe the lady at the supermarket that is so massively disorganized that she is holding up the line for everyone?  We all have people that we dislike or snub, or can't understand or get frustrated with... and Christ tells us that in addition to loving God with all that we are, the second most important thing after that is to love other people as we love ourselves.  And, just like we imagined love before, let's imagine it about ourselves.  Do we give up on ourselves, or do we give ourselves another chance?  Do we feel that we still have worth even when we make horrible mistakes?  De we feel that we deserve love even when we sin?  Do we feel like we're pretty cool, even though we get frustrated with ourselves sometimes?  Are we awesome and fun people that other people should get to know?  ... Yeah, we are. :)
Today, let's work on these most important of all things... loving God, and loving everyone else.  Let's work on our capacity and ability to love... to love God, to love others, and to love ourselves.  It makes all the difference.

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