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The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity

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Loving the Loveable | Love Commandments

The Love Commandments: We attach so many meanings to the word love, but what about love as a command, what is God doing in his commands? Unpack with us in this five part bible series. This is part three.

‘The most important [commandment],’ 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 neighbour as yourself.” There is no commandment greater than these.’

Mark 12:29-31

‘2015: Best. Year. Ever.’ declared his Facebook update – backed up by a collection of photos showing the exotic places he’d been and the exciting things he’d done in the last year. What could someone like this need from me? Jesus tells me to love my neighbour, but there appears to be no room for my love in his life. We find it easy to think about loving the poor, the sick, the homeless, because their need seems ‘obvious’, but what does love look like when most of the people around me (and, I suspect, you) are getting along just fine?

When we consider the second greatest commandment, we need to look back at the first to discover the character of love, which is with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. This love flows from every aspect of our humanity – our bodies, our intellect, our spirituality, and our emotions. Jesus is the supreme example of such love. He heals the sick, but he also has an intellectual conversation with Nicodemus in the middle of the night, sits and eats with rich but lonely Zacchaeus, and weeps with Mary and Martha over Lazarus’ death.

So, perhaps there is space for love among the apparently self-sufficient. Physical need, or lack of it, is easy to see, but what of spiritual, emotional or mental need, where loneliness is hidden behind net curtains and busy schedules? In a chronically distracted society, our neighbours and colleagues crave relationships rich in time and attention.

Wonderfully, God imposes no limits on when, where or how we should love, for our neighbour is whomever we find next to us. So when I look with the full spectrum of love, I see opportunities all around me. The mums I meet crave adult, intellectual conversation. A young Christian at church, living out her faith among non-believing friends, longs for spiritual encouragement. A colleague needs emotional support in the face of unkind gossip.

Of course, our ability to love this way flows from knowing the love of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Perhaps the most marked feature of his love is time. He makes time for his Father – despite a busy schedule – and always has time for those around him, whatever their need. Help me, Jesus, to love as you love: with all that I am, for all that my neighbours are.

For Further Reflection

  • Which person on your frontline came to mind when you read about those around us who are ‘getting along just fine’ without God? In what ways can you love them?
  • In what ways do we sometimes justify our lack of love for others? How far do the boundaries of our ‘neighbourhood’ reach?