When Jesus was confronted and questioned by the religious elite about which law/commandment was the greatest (there were about 897 individual laws at that point) Jesus proclaims that the entirety of the law is summed up in two, “to love God with your whole heart and your whole soul, and your whole mind (Mark adds strength); and to love your neighbor as you love yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-40) Earlier in Matthew’s Gospel Jesus proclaims in the “sermon on the mount”: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.” (Matthew 5:17)
The Christ comes to fulfill the law: Love God and love those God loves. In doing so Christ invites us to follow. Are we able? In answering the question one 20th Century theologian invites us to consider, “Remember, as soon as your ‘love’ needs or wants a reward in return, you have backed away from Divine Love, which is why even our common notion of a ‘reward in heaven’ can keep us from the actual love of God or neighbor! A pure act of love is its own reward, and needs nothing in return. Love is shown precisely in an eagerness to love.”
Let’s do it! Let us answer the call to follow Jesus in this way of love. Let us embrace a love for “the other” that reflects how we have been loved by Christ. Let us embrace a love for our enemies, and those who persecute us, that reflects the unmerited, undeserving love of God. As we embrace our own belovedness, let us embrace all God has created and calls beloved! To this end we are in this together; it is a privilege to serve in ministry with you, see you in church.
Pastors Cathy and Doug Johns