One of my favorite passages in all of scripture is found in Matthew 22. I love it for two reasons: first, it’s simple and clear. All too often the Bible is anything but simple and clear, so I’m always excited to come upon those rare occasions that the teaching is plainly stated and clearly communicated. Second, Jesus manages to articulate with shocking brevity the very heart of what it means for us to follow Him and become the men and women God created us to be.
Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” -Matthew 22:36-40
In a day and age when everything seems unreasonably difficult- public health, politics, economics, family life, work life- it’s so helpful to have a clear and concise ethic that can guide our actions as the hands and feet of Christ. Jesus distills everything down to loving God and loving neighbor, and effectively combines them into a single command that functions as a filter for God’s people to use in any given context. Again, I’m captured by the simplicity and clarity of Jesus’s response to one of the most basic human questions: what’s the main thing? Christians seem prone to make the practice of faith infinitely more complex than Jesus himself. It’s not actually that complicated: love God, love neighbor!
This was one of the first things that I learned about PTCUMC: “For our Neighbors” is a beautiful way of capturing Jesus’s teaching. It is not an overstatement to say that we were built to love God by loving our neighbors! We have a God-given opportunity to meet a love-starved culture with the Bread of Life that can satisfy its hunger for healing, grace and love. While there is plenty to distract us from that mission right now, I believe God placed this church in this location for a reason: to love Him by loving them! Let’s get to work!