I apologize for the erratic nature of these posts in the past few days. I’ve been a bit under the weather.
28 One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, ‘Which commandment is the first of all?’ 29Jesus answered, ‘The first is, “Hear, O Israel:the Lord our God, the Lord is one; 30you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” 31The second is this, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.’
Now that our daughter is able run, climb, and talk back to us, my wife and I are learning the importance of rules. Some of our rules: “Hands are not for hitting.” “No standing on the sofa.” “No running with food in your mouth.” These are the kinds of rules we are used to; the negative rules. And we create negative rules because somebody, at some point in time, has done that thing we are now forbidding.
The rules that Jesus gives us are radically different. These are positive rules. Jesus is telling us what to do rather than what not to do. Love God. Love neighbor.
Honestly, I think the positive rules are harder to follow. For instance, when the Old Testament gave us the law that says, “you shall commit adultery,” I get that. It’s straightforward. But when Jesus pulls out these two commandments, love God and love neighbor, it’s harder to grasp. What does love mean? And who is my neighbor?
Though it might be more difficult to grasp, I think this leads us to a more mature spiritual life. Rather than simply obeying negative commandments, we are first called to ask deeper questions. And from that place of depth, we are invited to encounter a connection with the living God that surpasses all understanding.
The Rev. Jimmy Abbott