Love, Hate and Indifference
TWENTY-FIRST SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST/REFORMATION SUNAY
Prayer of the Day: O Lord God, you are the holy lawgiver, you are the salvation of your people. By your Spirit renew us in your covenant of love, and train us to care tenderly for all our neighbors, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.
“’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Matthew 22:37-40.
It could not be simpler. All scripture as we have it in the law, the prophets and the apostles of the New Testament are to be interpreted through the prism of these two great commandments. If any interpretation of the scripture drives one to actions that do not reflect love, it is wrong, however carefully and painstakingly exegeted it may be.
Of course, “love is a many splendored thing.” I can use it to express my feelings for my wife just as easily as I can use it to express my appetite for rum raison ice cream. So, to be clear, love in this biblical sense derives its meaning from the narrative of Jesus’ Incarnation, faithful life, sacrificial death and glorious Resurrection. The Sermon on the Mount in which Jesus reduces the law to a life lived in faithful reliance upon God’s grace and unconditional love for one’s neighbor is not an ideal to which believers are required to live up. Nor is it just a mirror into which we need to look from time to time in order to remind ourselves that we are sinners in need of grace. There is nothing ideal, theoretical or aspirational here. The Sermon lays out the path Jesus actually walked and into which he calls his disciples to follow.
It needs to be said that the love to which Jesus calls us has little to do with affection. It is something practiced rather than felt. Read more