Monday, September 27, 2010

How many commands do you need to follow? Pick one as long as it is love.

Bible scholars have for generations counted the commands in the Bible. Most people would say that the Old Testament has somewhere over 600 commands to follow. Of course, most children's Sunday School classes have focused on the 10 Biggies, the 10 Commandments. There was even a classic movie made of that with wonderful 1960's style special effects.

I think people over think this issue. Jesus said that there are just 2 commandments that summarize everything God asks people to do. They are, love God and love others.

In the Old Testament God made this clear as the summary of the giving of the 10 commandments. He said:
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Deuteronomy 6:4-6
And in the New Testament, Jesus makes it clear that all commandments boil down to just these two.
“ ‘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.” Matthew 22:37-40
In reality to love God and love others is the same commandment. If you love God, you will love other people. So, in reality God only requires one thing of you. That is to love.

This should be very freeing. We are to love. We don't have to be theologians to love. We just need to love. We don't have to understand the political climate to love. We just need to be loving to all people. We don't need to have a perfect ecclesiology or eschatology to love. We just need to care for the needs of the people around us and focus on the goodness of God.

What extra things are you doing in your life that may interfere with your raw ability to love? What extra expectation are you putting on others that inhibit their ability to love you back, or may lead you to be less loving of them? 

I've heard it said that you should hate the sin but love the sinner. I wonder if we shouldn't just love the sinner and love God and let God focus more on the conviction of the sinner. Sure loving God will demand a separation from sin, but perhaps the best focus for my life is how much I can love God rather than labeling the actions of others as sinful. I often misinterpret actions anyhow.