37And 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. 38This is the great and first commandment. 39And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. 40On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
- Matthew 22:37-40
As I write this I feel as if you have already heard this many times. Love your Neighbour as your self, I know I heard it many times in sunday school growing up. What does this mean? I mean sure it means that the most important thing is to love your neighbour right? Lets invite our neighbour over for coffee, lets give money to the homeless, lets support social justice!
I think a lot of us missed something really important here. It is not about loving our neighbours, it is not about what we can do for others, it isn’t about them, and frankly, it is not about us at all. Then what is it about?
That first part of the quote is really the important part, but we are so often in such a big hurry to see what we need to do that we miss it. The thing we are supposed to do is Love the Lord our God. Not just a bit, but to be completely consumed by it, completely focused on it. He says it is the great and first commandment. It forms the basis for the laws regarding idols and no other gods before God.
Then when do we get to the part about loving our neighbours? I want to cook, give out hot chocolate and buy ethical Coffee at my local coffee shop! These are great things for us to do, but they are not our focus. We should focus on God, we should love Him with all of our Heart Soul and Mind, as it says in Luke1. If we do this, if we are so focused on loving Christ, and having a relationship with Him, then we become more like Him. As we love Him, our hearts will break for the things that break His heart. As we are made more in His image we begin to love the things that He loves.
Out of loving Christ we can love our neighbours. The difference is subtle, but very important. If we are focused on loving our neighbours then we are focused on works. Focusing on works does not bring us closer to Christ! In Mathew 7:21-23 it says,
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
- Matthew 7:21-23
If our focus is on Christ, then what does that look like? It says it right there, “but the one who does the will of my Father”. How can we know the will of the Father if we do not know Him, how can we know Him if we are not focused on loving Him. If we are consumed with loving God with all of our heart soul and mind, then we will know the will of the Father. Then we will love our neighbours. We will reach out and touch the lives of those around us because we can not stop ourselves. We will be so overwhelmed with love that it will be a natural action, it will be an act of Worship to the Lord.
Can you imagine that, you are so in love with God that you can not contain it, and you simply love those around you so much because of it. We will go so far beyond acts, and deeds. It won’t be about buying the Ethical coffee, or shovelling snow for an old lady’s driveway. It will be about devoting our lives to helping those around us, in truly deep and meaningful ways. Yes we will likely shovel the walks, and buy the ethical coffee, however it won’t be so that others see us do these things, or so that these people see us helping them. It will be about getting to know that woman. Maybe your love language is gifts and acts and thats how you show her love at first, but then you find that she enjoys talking with you. Maybe its about how that person receives love, and we get to be God’s love to that person in their life. It becomes less about ourselves, it becomes about God!
Lets focus on Loving God, then letting that love pour through us into others. Lets take the focus off of ourselves and spend time with God. It isn’t always about doing things, or moving, sometimes it is about the peace and the time with God. Out of that our movement and our doing things is focused on God and His Kingdom.