Love Your Neighbor

Love Your Neighbor

We live in a culture where semantics is everything. If we assume that other
people have the same exact definition of a particular word or phrase, then we
can often misunderstand or misinterpret one another.


When Libby and I first started dating I used the phrase “weird” to describe
something. For me, weird meant different, an anomaly, but for Libby, it meant
marginalized, set apart from normal. We disagreed for at least an hour on the
word “weird.”


But this is normal in our culture. Words carry so much impact, words can build
up, and words can tear down. Words are ever-changing, and they shift in
meaning from one generation to the next.


One of these words is Love. Agape Eros Khuba Ahavah …these are all words
from Greek, Aramaic, and Hebrew that means love, and so when we are challenged to
love one another, the meaning can get distorted. To help us all get on the same
a page for what scriptural love and Jesus’ intent towards love really is, let’s watch
this together:
Watch Bible Project – “Agape”


So let’s walk together through what is happening in this passage:
Mark 12:28-34
One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that
Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments,
which is the most important?”

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our
God, the Lord is one.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your
mind and with all your strength.’


The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment
greater than these.”


“Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and
there is no other but him.


To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your
strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt
offerings and sacrifices.”


When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far
from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more
questions.


– There are debates taking place over semantics and interpretation of
scripture
– A sincere question is being posed by a scribe
– Jesus is being tested, not on his ability to know scripture or interpret
scripture, but more on how to apply it in sequential order of importance
– Jesus is modeling what love truly is and what it isn’t
– Affirmation from the scribe that he agrees with Jesus
– Jesus affirming the scribe that he is seeing the gospel of Jesus correctly


So what does this mean for us? What are we supposed to learn from this
passage that we don’t already know?


God Comes First
When Jesus says, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
Jesus is referring to the Shema, the morning and evening affirmation and ritual
prayer that each true follower would pray. By putting God as the greatest
commandment, Jesus is bringing unity to those he is interacting with.

Remember he’s saying God is most important right when everyone is debating
what is most important, and what do things mean. It’s Jesus’ way of saying, “ok
everyone, what we’re debating is neither here nor there if we do not keep God at
the center of our conversation and daily practices.”


God’s Priority Check
Now that we have God as our true North Star, we then place our energy and
priorities in order.


Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your
mind and with all your strength.’


– Is my heart/emotions/desire lined up to God?
– Is my soul at peace/rest with the one who created me?
– Are my thoughts ones that reflect God’s thoughts?
– Do I have misplaced effort(s)?


I know for many people this can create stress, or it assumes that we must have
this perfectionist mindset towards spirituality, but that’s not the intent. The intent
is to be honest and clear about where we stand. We then get flooded with
wanting to do more, do less, care too much, or not care enough, when in fact our life
should not be driven by anxiety or fear of God, but by a love for God. So when we
have these thoughts, when we don’t know exactly which way to turn, even after
we know God needs to be our priority, we find direction from this passage…


Matthew 6:33 – “But seek FIRST his kingdom and his righteousness, and all ‘these
things’ will be given to you.”


These things are anything that brings worry, doubt, division, provision, raising
children, building a life… These things matter, but we are more apt to give up
control of these things when we place God first.


God’s People Should Love People

John 13: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so
you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my
disciples, if you love one another.”

Remember he’s saying God is most important right when everyone is debating
what is most important, and what do things mean. It’s Jesus’ way of saying, “ok
everyone, what we’re debating is neither here nor there if we do not keep God at
the center of our conversation and daily practices.”
God’s Priority Check
Now that we have God as our true North Star, we then place our energy and
priorities in order.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your
mind and with all your strength.’
– Is my heart/emotions/desire lined up to God?
– Is my soul at peace/rest with the one who created me?
– Are my thoughts ones that reflect God’s thoughts?
– Do I have misplaced effort(s)?
I know for many people this can create stress, or it assumes that we must have
this perfectionist mindset towards spirituality, but that’s not the intent. The intent
is to be honest and clear about where we stand. We then get flooded with
wanting to do more, do less, care too much, not care enough, when in fact our life
should not be driven by anxiety or fear of God, but by a love for God. So when we
have these thoughts, when we don’t know exactly which way to turn, even after
we know God needs to be our priority, we find direction from this passage…
Matthew 6:33 – “But seek FIRST his kingdom and his righteousness, and all ‘these
things’ will be given to you.”
The these things are anything that brings worry, doubt, division, provision, raising
children, building a life… These things matter, but we are more apt to give up
control of these things when we place God first.
God’s People Should Love People

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your
mind and with all your strength.’
The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment
greater than these.”
“Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and
there is no other but him.
To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your
strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt
offerings and sacrifices.”
When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far
from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more
questions.
– There are debates taking place over semantics and interpretation of
scripture
– A sincere question is being posed by a scribe
– Jesus is being tested, not on his ability to know scripture or interpret
scripture, but more on how to apply it in sequential order of importance
– Jesus is modeling what love truly is and what it isn’t
– Affirmation from the scribe that he agrees with Jesus
– Jesus affirming the scribe that he is seeing the gospel of Jesus correctly
So what does this mean for us? What are we supposed to learn from this
passage that we don’t already know.
God Comes First
When Jesus says, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
Jesus is referring to the Shema, the morning and evening affirmation and ritual
prayer that each true follower would pray. By putting God as the greatest
commandment, Jesus is bringing unity to those he is interacting with.Remember he’s saying God is most important right when everyone is debating
what is most important, and what do things mean. It’s Jesus’ way of saying, “ok
everyone, what we’re debating is neither here nor there if we do not keep God at
the center of our conversation and daily practices.”
God’s Priority Check
Now that we have God as our true North Star, we then place our energy and
priorities in order.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your
mind and with all your strength.’
– Is my heart/emotions/desire lined up to God?
– Is my soul at peace/rest with the one who created me?
– Are my thoughts ones that reflect God’s thoughts?
– Do I have misplaced effort(s)?
I know for many people this can create stress, or it assumes that we must have
this perfectionist mindset towards spirituality, but that’s not the intent. The intent
is to be honest and clear about where we stand. We then get flooded with
wanting to do more, do less, care too much, not care enough, when in fact our life
should not be driven by anxiety or fear of God, but by a love for God. So when we
have these thoughts, when we don’t know exactly which way to turn, even after
we know God needs to be our priority, we find direction from this passage…
Matthew 6:33 – “But seek FIRST his kingdom and his righteousness, and all ‘these
things’ will be given to you.”
The these things are anything that brings worry, doubt, division, provision, raising
children, building a life… These things matter, but we are more apt to give up
control of these things when we place God first.
God’s People Should Love PeopleJohn 13:“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so
you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my
disciples, if you love one another.”

More Posts

“Your Next Great Adventure: Mission” by John Burke

You were created on purpose and with a purpose. A relationship with God allows you to make the most of
every good and bad experience life throws at us. Walking by faith is not always easy, but it’s a life most worth
living. Discover how setting aside the instant gratification of today can enable us to accomplish a mission that’s far greater than we could imagine.

READ

Voices 2022 – Ben Sledge

This Sunday, “Sledge” is coming back to Gateway! Long-time Gatewayers know how compelling and hilarious Sledge is as a speaker. You may also know him from his work on Medium.com where he writes primarily on mental health. His new book Where Cowards Go To Die, is a memoir from his time serving in the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan. His book “cuts through the bravado to reveal a brutal portrait of war and the cost of returning to a country that no longer feels like home.”

READ

Ukraine Update

Here is an update from Gateway’s Kirby Holmes, Director of Slavic Partnerships for Storyline Missions.

READ