Scripture Reading: Mark 12:28-34
Then the scribe said to him, ‘You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that “he is one, and besides him there is no other”; and “to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength”, and “to love one’s neighbor as oneself”,—this is much more important than all whole burnt-offerings and sacrifices.’ When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.’ After that no one dared to ask him any question. –Mark 32-34
One of the hardest things, I think, in being a follower of Christ is to accept fully and completely that God loves us no matter what. Particularly for those of us who live in the United States where we thrive on competition, we think, if we just could figure out what to do and do it better than anybody else, we will be worthy of God’s love. In all honesty, it is true, but it is also true that if we did not set ourselves apart from others, God will still love us. And it is equally true that God loves all those people who we think we have excelled.
Apparently the scribe as told in Mark understood what Jesus was saying. Burnt-offerings and sacrifices were the center of the Jewish faith from its beginning. Confessing that loving one’s neighbor was more important even then this was saying a lot. Jesus’ follow-up said even more. He said that when we have all achieved this ideal of loving our neighbors as we love ourselves the kingdom of God will be the norm across all the earth.
Love is contagious and life changing. It spreads from one person to another and perhaps infects a few who realize its presence in that process. It can start when we begin to treat all people as equal. We declare it in our governmental documents, but even the earliest ones really did not mean equal to include the slaves or the indigenous peoples of this land. Today there remain outlier people in practice, even though the documents have largely been updated to mean everyone. The people of God are called to turn ideals into realization.
Prayer: Lord, make us lovers of all souls and the earth and all that is in it. Teach us what it means to love you in the process. Amen.
All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights reserved.