“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?” Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you 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.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Then the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that ‘he is one, and besides him there is no other’; and ‘to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength,’ and ‘to love one’s neighbor as oneself,’—this is much more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” After that no one dared to ask him any question.”
Love God. Love neighbor. That’s the Gospel in a nutshell.
How can something so conceptually simple but so difficult to implement?
We have become masters at building walls between ourselves and God, between ourselves and our neighbors. We create elaborate religious schemes to justify the walls we erect and pen clever circular arguments to convince the world “it is the will of God.” As a result, ministry takes on two primary foci. One is tearing down the dividing walls. This is the work that gets a minister fired. The other is building relational bridges where the walls once stood. This is where the real blessing of ministry is found… if you survive the tearing down walls phase.
I’m guessing it was not a coincidence that Jesus’ father was a carpenter by trade. It prepared him well for the way of life God called him to live.
I am so blessed to be serving a community of faith focused on building the relational bridges of love, the love that God brought into the world through the baby Jesus – the kind of love that sees everyone who crosses our life pathways as our “neighbor.”