July 10, 2016 - The Not-So-Golden Rule

There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test him and said,
"Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
Jesus said to him, "What is written in the law?
How do you read it?"
He said in reply,
"You shall love the Lord, your God,
with all your heart,
with all your being,
with all your strength,
and with all your mind,
and your neighbor as yourself."
He replied to him, "You have answered correctly;
do this and you will live."

Luke 10:25-37

How anxious we are to ignore the first five lines of this commandment and focus only on the sixth!

The Golden Rule - to love your neighbor as yourself - is great, practical advice.  If you want someone to do something nice for you, do something nice for them.  It is just plain old reciprocity.  The most inveterate atheist can sign up for that! It has risen to prominence in every culture on Earth in every age.  In the Gospel of John, Jesus finally ups the ante on the Golden Rule in favor of something that transcends mere reciprocity:  He says, “love one another as I have loved you.”

But what does it mean to live the first five sixths of this commandment?  What does it look like to love God and to love Him with all your heart, being, strength and mind? 

I think it’s a mistake to attach our usual metrics to it. I suspect to love God is not necessarily to be super-moral, or super-charitable, or super-humble.  I suspect to love God doesn’t conform to any simple formula and may well mean something different for everyone.  But we should probably live in the tension of those first five lines and not commit everything to pithiness of the last.