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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.’
When The Truth Hurts
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Any of the Pharisees and scribes surrounding Jesus at that time would have known instantly what he was saying – and they would have agreed with his assessment of “rule number 1.”
Jesus was being attacked by the religious leaders. They were asking him question after question, hoping to catch him in a lie or heresy, so they could discount his claims. The scribe comes into this tense situation and brings it back to the basics. “What is the most important rule, Jesus?”And Jesus answers.
He answers clearly – with the Shema Yisrael.
But Jesus didn’t stop there. No, Jesus adds “AND love your neighbor as yourself.”So in the very moment he was being questioned and attacked with the worst of intentions, Jesus tells the very people trying to cause him harm that loving God is equal to loving others.
And if you aren’t loving your neighbor, then you aren’t loving God.
When Jesus added this extra part to the most basic, foundational prayer of the Hebrew Scripture, he forever changed the way it was heard, read, and understood.
Jesus attached loving God and neighbor in a way that feels natural to us now, but when he did it then, it was radical. So too are we asked this same question today – what’s your rule number 1?
It’s not asked as a “gotcha” question – but to bring us back to the basics. We’ve gotten distracted. We fight about anything and everything.
But today we are reminded that our foundation, the core of who we are, is loving God and loving others.
Questions to Ponder
1. What is your rule number one? What do you consider your personal most important rule of life?
2. What things do you put in front of loving God? Money? Being right? What most often stands in the way of your loving God with your mind, body, strength and soul?
3. What are ways you can love your neighbor today?
Look for ways to love God and neighbor this week. Go out, serve others, be kind, and remember that we belong to each other.