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7-Day Practical Faith Blog: The High Bar that Jesus Sets

Matthew 22: 37-40

I came across this post from Rev. Benjamin Cremer that got me to thinking. It starts like this:

My love for God and my love for my neighbor are two boats on the same tide. One cannot be raised without raising the other.

To me, this is an interesting way of tying together two commandments that Jesus also tied together. When asked about by an expert in the law what the greatest commandment was, Jesus’ response in Matthew 22: 37-40 was:

Jesus replied: “’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. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

I’m struck by the phrase, “the second is like it.” Jesus sees these commandments as flip sides of the same coin, similar to Cremer’s comparison to two boats on the same tide.

However, the second part of Cremer’s post is where things get more challenging:

If my relationship with God doesn't result in justice and wellbeing for my neighbor, I need to question if I have a deep relationship with God at all.

In other words, if there is an imbalance between the two “boats,” if there is not a tangible benefit to my neighbor when I love God, then it may indicate that I don’t love God so much after all. Conversely, if I do love God with everything I’ve got, then my neighbor should see a difference in their life.

I said on a recent podcast that Jesus’ Golden Rule to “Do to others what you would have done to you” sets the highest ethical standard of any religion. So does his commandment to love God, love neighbor. If we truly love God with everything we’ve got, then we will love our neighbor with everything we’ve got. This is a tremendously high bar. But that’s the bar that Jesus sets for us Christians.

How will you start today to love your neighbor with everything you’ve got and make a difference in their life?

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