Monday, May 13, 2019. Many people know that Jesus commands his disciples to love their neighbors as themselves. It is recorded in the New Testament, and it is part of this new covenant, rooted deeply in the cross of Calvary and the forgiveness which is proclaimed with the death of Jesus!
However, the command to love your neighbor as yourself is not new at all. It is, indeed, one of the old commands, given together with the 10 commandments when Moses brought the people of Israel out of Egypt.
An Old Commandment …
Let us have a look into the biblical book Leviticus, the third book of Moses. Here, it is written:
18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord. (from Lev 19)
Let us try to understand the overall framework of the command. Where does it come from, and why is it so important?
The bible describes God, the creator. He is. He has been ever since, he was before time, he is above time, and he will be when time has ended. We call it eternity. He is also acting within time, he is there in the middle of human history, and in the middle of your day.
God is father, son and holy spirit. The biblical books find the one God, the only God, but in three persons. God in himself is community, he in himself is love. This is, indeed, good news. Good news in the sense that God is to great, that humans find rescue and a home in him.
The most important point: God created humans to be with them. He created them in his image. We are made to live with God, to have him as our heavenly father, and to be his children. He created us with the desire to know a great God, a loving God, the ultimate reference point as well as living father day by day.
With him …
We are made to love God. We are made to discover his purity and love, to experience it, to live in intense community with him through the holy spirit. Without this spirit we are empty and lonely. There is a place in our soul, the most important place, which is made for him to be God and love and center to us.
When he, the eternal God, is missing in our soul, we start to fill the place with other things. But these are not made to be there. They are things, not God. We give them a role, which does not fit and does not work. The bible calls it idol. When ever something in our life gets to the place which has been created for God, it becomes an idol. This is how it is.
But God needs to be in this place. He needs to be our God. And the connecting link is love. Without love, we are robots. Without love, we are not linked to him the way which would be adequate for him. He is love himself, the origin of all we know and feel and experience. Only love is the adequate and sustainable link to God. Only love can save us.
When we are connected to the original love, we cannot but live his way. And his way is to love him, to love ourselves and to love all around us in an intense way. That does not say we should do all what people tell us to do - do not mix up love with stupitity. Our love should be real love, and real love will be very careful about how it treats people and what is does. True love is full of critical interaction, driven by deep friendship.
What can we say? Just discover this love, which comes from the Lord, and is the Lord, today and tomorrow and for eternity! (Roland Potthast) ... further texts