The Greatest Commandment


August 18, 2017

Last Friday I walked into the woods and spent a few days backpacking. The big story in the news that day was North Korea. Over the weekend I couldn’t help but wonder how things were developing on that front. When I came back into civilization two days later, I was bewildered to see that the story on North Korea had been put on the back burner. That was old news. It had been overtaken by the terrible events in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend. So much had happened in just a couple of days.

I’m not sure what I can add to conversation about the events that took place last weekend. So much has already been said. I’m sad about what happened there. I’m sad for the victims. I’m sad for people who think it’s okay to promote racism and violence. All of these things are the result of sin and evil in the world.

As if North Korea and Charlottesville weren’t enough to chew on, we have more recent news this week about violence in Spain and Finland.

Where do we go from here?

Maybe we need to get back to the essentials of our faith. I don’t have all the answers to the world’s problems. I don’t know how to fix the problems of racism and terrorism. But if we would take a serious look at Scripture, I think we would find some answers and a way to work toward healing the disease of hatred that is causing so much pain in our world.

Jesus was teaching in the temple one day. A Pharisee came and tried to trip him up with a tough question. He asked Jesus which commandment was the most important. What would you say? How would you decide which one is most important? The Pharisees probably thought Jesus would choose one of the Ten Commandments, and then they could really have an argument with him about why he didn’t choose one of the other commandments.

But Jesus gave a very simple, yet profound answer: “‘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." Here he is quoting from Deuteronomy 6:5. But Jesus doesn’t stop there. He continued: "And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40).

Why don’t we start here? Why don’t we get back to the basics? If more people would truly love God and love their neighbor, there would be far less hatred and suffering in the world. If everyone would follow these two most important commandments, North Korea and Charlottesville and Barcelona and Turku wouldn't be in the news today.

Maybe we can’t force the leaders of the world to follow God’s law of love, but what if we started in our own spheres of influence? You can start right now. Choose to love God and love others. And loving others means loving everyone, not just those who agree with you or have the same skin color. Love everyone.

If you’re reading this, I challenge you to work on that this week. Hey, keep trying it for more than this week. Make it a way of life.

While you're at it, try this one on for size too: 

"He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”  ~Micah 6:8