Love Conquers All
Jesus told us this in many ways over 2000 years ago. He told us to love each other. He told us that people would be able to identify His followers by the love we showed to one another. He told us to love our neighbors. He told us to love the least among us. He told us to love our enemies.
Many part ways with Jesus at this last command. Because it’s so easy to call people an enemy when they disagree with our doctrine, core beliefs or love of country (amor patriae), people who call themselves “Christian” let this command, along with others to love, roll off their belief system like water off a duck’s back.
They add “ifs,” “ands” or “buts” to Jesus’ words when His command is as straightforward as His other commands, like, “Do not judge.”
To take His commands out of context or ignore them completely is malum in se, wrong in itself, inherently wrong. If we are to know Jesus and know the intent of His words, we must read the Gospels and in particular, His Sermon on the Mount recorded in Matthew.
For Moses gave us only the Law with its rigid demands and merciless justice, but Jesus gave us the gifts of grace, truth and unfailing love. (John 1:17)
When we ignore the level of all-encompassing, unconditional love and lavish, scandalous grace Jesus offers us, we get stuck back into Old Testament thinking: Corruptissima re publica plurimae leges (When the republic is at its most corrupt the laws are most numerous. Tacitus).
Jesus cared more about what was in the heart of His believers. He did not care for Pharisees who dotted every “i” and crossed every “t” of the law. Instead, He cared for those who read the Law and interpreted the meaning and intent of the words behind the Law. In fact, He taught us how to do this.
He gave examples like “You shall not murder,” and took it further to “You shall not become angry toward a brother or sister” because he knew that thoughts and emotions can lead to unsavory and possibly lethal words and actions.
For I tell you this: you will not enter the kingdom of heaven unless your righteousness goes deeper than the Pharisees’, even more righteous than the most learned learner of the law. (Matthew 5:30)
He knew the basic tenet of all the laws was steeped in love, for if love was absent, none of the law mattered. If love was absent, one could follow the “i”s and “t”s of the law, but the heart would be absent, the desire to follow the law would be missing.
We power ahead, oblivious of those drops of living, teaching water left behind which we don’t allow to touch us, transform us, reach deep into our hearts and minds.
If the desire to follow law is missing, it is not intrinsic. We depend upon outside sources to force us to follow things which are written down. We don’t digest the spirit of the law, therefore we don’t remember to or care if we follow the law. Hence, commands of love , grace and compassion roll off our consciousness as water rolls off a duck’s back.
Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord your God is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40)