Mark 12:28-31 NIV
One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘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 mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
Several years ago, I was sitting at a Panther’s football game. I knew the person right beside me, but everyone else around me were total strangers. They were people from all walks of life. It was an exciting game where the Panthers trailed early but made an exciting comeback for the win.
One of the things I remember most fondly about this day was how, as the home team started their successful comeback, we all became instant friends. We were high-fiving each other after catches, hugging one another after touchdowns, and as one big happy family, celebrating when the game ended in victory. We were many but we were one! And our common denominator, the attraction that brought us all together and the bond that kept us that way, was the football team. For a few minutes that afternoon, we were all connected!
In our scripture lesson for today Jesus not only simplifies God’s Law, but He does so in a specific order. First, love the Lord. Second, love your neighbor. Jesus was intentional in the order of these commands.
If we love God first, above all things, then He will be the common denominator for our relationships with others. This relationship with our Father (up) should bring us together with all people (out), and keep us together. Because we love Him, then it should follow that we love our neighbors (all people) as ourselves.
When we commit to love God with all our heart, we see everyone else in a new light. We no longer see others as various skin colors or different socio-economic classes, but we see all as children of God, our brothers and sisters, all made and loved equally by the same Creator.
If we can rally together as one around a football team, think of the powerful connection we can have when we acknowledge God as the Father of us all. That is a game changer that makes us all winners!
Prayer: Father God, You bless us in so many ways and we thank You for that. You have given each of us the blessing of being one of Your children. Lord, help us to acknowledge and celebrate that connection each day by loving You, and everyone-everyone!-as we love ourselves. We pray this in the name of Your beloved Son Jesus. Amen.