But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:34-40 ESV)
“By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.” “If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.” (1 John 3:10, 4:20-21 ESV)
I recently noticed that when Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment in the law was, he answered with TWO commandments, both of which center on love. The greatest commandment in the law is essentially to love God fully and with all of your being. That would seem to pretty much take the cake, but Jesus says there is a second commandment that is “like” this greatest one, which is to “love your neighbor as yourself.” The word “like” here is the same word that Jesus uses when telling parables, such as when he says the Kingdom of heaven is like a field, like a seed, etc. In saying this second commandment is “like” the first and greatest, Jesus is not merely saying it is similar, but that the second somehow explains or completes it, showing us what it is like in a more full, tangible and concrete way. This means that loving God fully cannot be separated from loving your neighbor as yourself, and that loving one’s neighbor as oneself is, in a way, loving God.
Scripture (and the writings of other holy men) says in many ways and places that the mark of a true believer and disciple is love for others. Here is a small sample:
1 Timothy 1:5 WEB (R)): “…but the goal of this command is love, out of a pure heart and a good conscience and unfeigned faith…”
1 Peter 1:22-23 ESV: “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God…”
Ephesians 5:1-2 ESV: “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
John 13:34-35 WEB (R): “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, just like I have loved you; that you also love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
1 John 4:7-12 MLV: “Beloved, we should love one another; because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born from God and knows God. He who does not love, does not know God; because God is love. In this, the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent his only begotten Son into the world that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atonement on behalf of our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God is abiding in us and his love is perfected in us.”
1 John 4:7-12 is, to me, especially incredible and shocking. John says that God and love cannot be separated – where one is, the other is, and where one is missing, the other is missing. Just as Jesus said that loving one’s neighbor as oneself is an extension and completion of loving God, John, speaking by the same spirit, wrote that when/if we love one-another, God is present and active within us and His love is fully matured in us. Notice this: God’s presence and love in us will be permanently hindered and immature unless and until we love one another as ourselves!
Lately, I have learned a bit more about how the world’s financial system is very much founded on debt and greed. Because of this, it is a mathematical certainty that without huge changes, this system will become so bloated it will collapse. I don’t know how or when this will take place, but that’s not really the point. What I was reminded of is that while believers are in the world, we are not of the world. Even while we use the money of the world, we can and should operate according to a different economic system, one founded on love instead of fearful greed/selfishness. I’m not saying it’s wrong or evil to spend money on things for yourself, I’m saying that the “economy” of those who are “rooted and grounded in love”1 will be based on giving and sharing at the expense of self-gain, instead of the other way around. If we truly operate in such an economy of love, caring for others as and above ourselves, we will have nothing less than the presence and love of God as our foundation and life, and it won’t too much matter what happens if the worlds economy collapses.
Again I say, there is no condemnation for where you or I are today. None. It doesn’t matter what you’ve been doing or not doing. God is not holding any of that against you, of that I’m confident. Feel free to invite the God of love in, ask and seek His Spirit to help move your awareness and mind away from the OLD, PASSED AND TAKEN AWAY (the Bible’s words, not mine) system of law, which feeds a reward/punishment mentality, trapping you in a deceptive, endless roller-coaster of various forms of self-centeredness in the name of God. May you be enlightened with spiritual understanding to comprehend and be permeated with the Father’s goodness, mercy and love. Then realize that these same things are within you as His child! Give as you have been given!
To anyone reading this I say this: right now, you are justified, redeemed, and reconciled to God! I’m sorry that Christians have brought the law against you and made you feel exactly the opposite – guilty, damned, and at odds with God. I also understand that it may seem impossible for you to be justified and reconciled with God, given the way you’ve been living. But I’m telling you, God doesn’t look at things like we do, based on outward appearances. He sees mankind according to the “one for all” death and resurrection of Christ, not according to their flesh. He is not counting sins against anyone. Yes, flesh has to go, and it will. Some will begin to walk in the spirit in this life. Others will cling to the flesh and cause others to do the same, and will be purged by painful fire. But know this: what God is doing, through His son (which includes you and I as members, with Christ as the head), is bringing all of creation into alignment with what has been accomplished. In other words, the Kingdom of God is coming to earth. If we love instead of criticize, and forgive instead of retaliate, and speak Truth instead of doctrine, this will be a sign to the world that our message is true and divine, and the power and presence of God will accompany us.
Bless you all, thank you for reading. More to come.