“On These Two Commandments”
By Pastor Jerry Donovan
“’Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.’” (Matthew 22:36-40 NET Bible)
Nancy Townley sent me this message that I would like to share with you. “I wonder how the world sees us. We like to think of ourselves, our nation, as a bastion of freedom and hope for others, yet we are behaving in ways that speak volumes about fear and anger. We erect walls and dismantle bridges. We put qualifications on who shall become part of this nation and who shall be cast out. Saber-rattling has taken the place of actions of love and compassion.
Even in our churches there are great divisions. Not much has changed. The authorities in Jesus’ time wanted to challenge him. They came to him out of their fear and their desperate need to put him in his place. Find out who he is and then find ways to get rid of him. So they decided to use faith to do their work. “Jesus”, they said. “What’s the greatest commandment?” There, they thought. We’ll trap him into making some statement that would show him to be a phony. He looked at them and said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. But there is a second commandment: “You shall love your neighbor as you yourself wish to be loved. On this all the Law and the Prophets depend.”
“Wait a minute!” they thought. “He got the first part right, but what is this about loving neighbors? Doesn’t he know that we are threatened on all sides and also from within. Doesn’t he realize that we have to make the people toe the mark in order to preserve our own peace. Loving our neighbors is not part of the deal.”
That’s it. We want to love others when they agree completely with us. Otherwise, we want to entrap them and throw them out. We are called to love God — and to love others as God has already loved us. That is a tall order. The church, any church, by virtue of claiming to be Christian is called to make love the core value deep within and also demonstrate that love in our attitudes and actions to others. It is not easy! We will be ridiculed for this and insulted by some people. This is truly our challenge – to live the love of God. It is far too easy to shout angry words and treat others who are different from us with disdain. In the response of Jesus to the questions of the authorities, are we, ourselves, trapped? You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. And you shall love your neighbor, seeking pathways of peace. Don’t be fooled. This is no namby-pamby response and stance. This requires great patience, love and compromise. It requires dedication even in the face of ridicule. It’s not the easy way out. It is the way of peace.”
Join us for worship Sunday in Van Horn at 10:30 CDT at the Methodist Church at 4th and Crockett; in Sierra Blanca at 11:15 MDT at the Methodist Church on FM 1111; 9:00 AM CDT for Live Streaming Worship on my Facebook page (Jerry Donovan), and Youtube at https://youtube.com/channel/UCkQZsbuMuJHkIUGTJWgwloQ.