love at the center

by Pastor Mark Jordan

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Luke 10:27, NIV)

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This week we’re looking at neighborliness. God gave us the example of a neighbor in Jesus, then gave us the call to go and be a neighbor for others. If you wonder what constitutes a neighbor, Jesus’ teaching points to one core idea: a neighbor is anyone to whom you can show kindness and mercy.

Today’s verse comes just before Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan. The context is an expert in the Law tested Jesus about the greatest commandment. The answer about loving God with all you have and are, and loving neighbor as you love yourself, became the fulcrum of the conversation.

What interests me about this interaction that Jesus had with the expert in the Law is the expert wasn’t necessarily wrong in his answer. He knew the answer was about love, but the problem was in his application. In other words, he knew the letter of the Law, but missed the spirit of the Law. He was so focused on being right, he missed the point in why it was right. So when we think about our neighbor being anyone to whom we can show kindness and mercy, we cannot overlook the fact that love must be at the center.

You are called to love God with all you have and are, as well as love your neighbor as you love yourself. This sheds a whole new light on what it means to show kindnesses and mercy to other people. Putting love at the center redirects your focus from rules to relationship. How might that impact your interactions with your neighbors today?

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for loving me. Help me to keep love at my center, so my interactions with others are truly about loving you with all I have and am, and loving my neighbor as I love myself. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.