I’ve preached this idea of loving God and loving neighbor a lot. It’s a simple command from Jesus that comes from Jewish history, after their liberation from Egypt. It’s part of the Ten Commandments and reads, “ “Love God, your God, with your whole heart: love him with all that’s in you, love him with all you’ve got!”
(Deuteronomy 6:5 MSG).
But then I read this from Henri Nouwen, who opened my eyes to see this simple, basic command in a new way. I’d like to share it with you.
… we must continually remind ourselves that the first commandment requiring us to love God with all our heart, all our soul, and all our mind is indeed the first. I wonder if we really believe this. It seems that in fact we live as if we should give as much of our heart, soul, and mind as possible to our fellow human beings, while trying hard not to forget God. At least we feel that our attention should be divided evenly between God and our neighbor. But Jesus’ claim is much more radical. He asks for a single-minded commitment to God and God alone. God wants all of our heart, all of our mind, and all of our soul. It is this unconditional and unreserved love for God that leads to the care for our neighbor, not as an activity that distracts us from God or competes with our attention to God, but as an expression of our love for God who reveals himself to us as the God of all people. It is in God that we find our neighbors and discover our responsibility to them. We might even say that only in God does our neighbor become a neighbor rather than an infringement upon our autonomy, and that only in and through God does service become possible.“
Love begins with God. Love is God. All things begin with all of God’s love being poured into it. God gives us the fullness of love until we are filled with love. And that love is given for a purpose. So we will not steal, cheat, lie, covent or kill one another. Built so we will love one another. And act accordingly as if we are loving God in the flesh.
Text excerpts taken from "You are the Beloved" by Henri J.M. Nouwen Legacy Trust. (New York: Convergent Books, 2017).
An ex-copywriter turned punk rock pastor and peacemaker who dedicates his life to making the world a better place for all humanity.
"that they all might be one" ~John 17:21
“Prius vita quam doctrina.”
~ St. Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274)
* “Life is more important than doctrine.”