“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40 NIV
Christians and most Americans have these words seared into their conscious. Generally one thinks of the corner stone of Christianity as Jesus, the cross and love. Unfortunately in between Jesus and love comes dogma and doctrine. Often social justice minded Christians are more concerned for the love of neighbor than “church” involvement. These Christians are critiqued by “conservative” Christians who are involved with organized church, believing it is their outer expression of love of God. Likewise these are critiqued by the social justice minded Christians for their lack of community involvement. Why is there a split in the first place? I am sure there are Christians who are knees deep in carrying out both parts of the greatest commandment. Two questions I would like to propose. Are these commands synonymous? If they are synonymous, are those who are partial to social justice issues the only Christians?
How Do I Love God?
Let’s look at the text. Jesus is famous for hyperbole and parables, it would not be against the norm for him to repeat the same command in different means.
How does one love God? It seems we have created this idea that we must attend an organized church, read the bible and listen to Christian radio. Maybe staying away from porn, beer and pot making sure to live up to the law and moral codes set in place by their denomination. This sounds rather an odd way to love God. Oh, I know, it is giving 10 percent of your money to the church. Not really, the church, but a staff of paid members of the church. The ones responsible for the building, teaching, reading, music and other production work. I still do not understand how this is how one loves God.
Jesus says the same thing in order to make it much clearer to the reader. “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Not an easy task for sure. It is much easier to create dogma and doctrine in order to feel we have satisfied the requirements. The majority feeling that the dogma and doctrine outweigh love of neighbor not realizing that is all Jesus meant. All Jesus meant as the greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself.
How does that make sense? Simple, you are god. While not fully God, you are a piece of God. God would not be God without you. You are god, humanity as a whole is God. This is understood in many religions but generally rejected by the faith which worships the messenger. It would stand to reason that the majority of professing Christians are not Christians at all. They have created some strange doctrine and attached Jesus to the front cover.
Read the first four gospels. Jesus is constantly preaching plainly or through parable, good works towards mankind. Christians and non-Christians who take care of each other, fight for one another and give to one another. Those people, these gods, who love themselves by loving others. When others are themselves and themselves others, this knowledge is at the heart of the message of Jesus. Jesus was radical in his approach speaking the truth leading to his death. Are most people sitting in the pews every Sunday giving away their cash and singing a few songs really Christians?
‘By their fruit you will recognize them.” Matthew 7:16 NIV