Love God, Love People.

 


 

 

 

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”
And he (Jesus) said to him (the Pharisee), “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Luke 22:36-40 ESV

 

 

 



 

 

Life.

Life in America.

We are so blessed to be living in this country.

But, sometimes living in America causes us to miss the greatest themes of the Bible.

 

 



 

 

I am a dreamer. I’ve always known this about myself. I am always looking ahead, envision, planning, and dreaming God dreams. If you join me for a long car ride, you’d find that I can spend hours in silence day dreaming about the future.

I want you to tap into your imagination. I want you to put your life on hold for a second. I want you to take a step back from your upbringing, idealisms, culture, and everything you know. I want you to take off your shoes, and replace them with the shoes of a Jewish person during the time of Moses.

 

 



 

 

There we find you as a dark skinned descendant of your ancestor Abraham. You are currently enslaved by the Egyptian empire. Every day consists of laboring away for your masters. You were born into slavery, so it is all you’ve ever known. You’ve heard stories of your ancestors traveling to great lands, having beautiful children, being favored by a God, and even wrestling with Him. You’ve heard all of the stories, but it is hard for you to believe the religious themes of your heritage.

Supposedly, your God is the one true God. He is stronger, greater, and in a league of His own.

But the culture around you worship their own gods. And to you, it seems as if their gods are in charge of the universe. If your God was so mighty, then why has your family been oppressed for all of these years? These other gods are sexier, culturally relevant, and have amazing stories of their own. You start to become skeptical of your families God.

 

 



 

 

Fast forward a few years, and you are now living and experiencing your families God do the impossible. You watched as he cursed the Egyptians with 10 different plagues, all while spitting in the faces of their gods. You watched as a sea was split open for your people to pass through. And all you’ve ever known about life, religion, and God begins to drastically change.

And then, the unthinkable happens.

Your God has come down from the heavenly realms, and has given your people a list of rules, regulations, and guidelines on how to live a life that is pleasing to Him. Like…in writing…like…an actual direction for your people to follow…

This is astounding.

Your God, Yahweh, has essentially created the first organized religion.

He not only presented your people with 10 commands, but He also listed 644 other ways on how to glorify, worship, and live for Him. Those other gods back in Egypt were mere stories passed down by oral tradition. Your God has actually given you something to follow.

Life, as you know, it has changed forever.

 

 



 

 

Now let’s fast forward.  Let’s imagine that you are a Jewish person during the time of Jesus.

We find you walking in the city of Jerusalem, like you do most days, but this time something is different.

You look ahead and there’s a crowd surrounding an individual rabbi. You don’t know this Rabbi, but you assume that He’s the one that has been causing some trouble lately. You know He’s healed some sick people, but you also know that He has broken a few of the Mosaic Laws. You don’t really know how you feel about Him.

You joined the crowd a little late, so you don’t really know what’s going on. You notice that one of the elite religious groups are standing near the Rabbi. You know these men as the Pharisees. They are passionate about the Law, and are well respected by the community, but you think they’re a little zealous and slightly annoying.

You overhear one of the Pharisees ask the Rabbi,
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”

The question has created curiosity within the crowd, and you yourself seemed to be fully engaged with the conversation.

Which of the 644 Laws is this Rabbi going to choose?

The Rabbi begins His answer with a commandment that you know well. “Love the Lord your God…” You know this because you hear some of your faithful brothers and sisters repeating it to themselves quite often. The command, in itself, is a culture norm.

Then the Rabbi finishes with a Law that is puzzling to you. “Love your neighbor as yourself…”

Wait.

Hold on.

What?

 

 



 

 

Picture this: you are standing in the midst of Jesus and He has just summed up the entirety of the faith with two commands.

You, as a Jew, know that the Law is held dear to your people’s hearts. You know that the Law is unlike any other religion around you.

But you also know that your God has put your ancestors through hell.

 

 



 

 

The Jews were a minority in an oppressive culture. They were constantly being taken over, oppressed, and enslaved. They watched their people time and time again get abused, mistreated, persecuted, and murdered.

A small list of people who oppressed the Jews before Jesus:
Egyptians
Canaanites
Assyrians
Babylonians
Persians
Greeks

And don’t forget, at the time of Jesus the Jews would have been under the ruling of the most massive, unruly, violent, and feared empires of them all…Rome.

 

Imagine being a Jewish person and some Rabbi comes into your city and tells you that the two greatest commands of them all are essentially to love God and love people.

But hold up.

You have watched your beloved kings die. You have seen your family forced into labor. You have witnessed your friends die on a cross.

So who does this Jesus guy think He is? Where does He get off?

First off: we hate our enemies. This Messiah of ours is supposed to return to Earth and rescue us from the hands of our enemies. He’s supposed to take up a sword and slay all those who we hate. He’s going to reign His rulership and His justice over all those on the land. Right? That’s what Yahweh wants for us! These oppressors have beaten us, slaughtered us, stolen money from us, and have killed us! God doesn’t want us to love them! God wants us to destroy them! Right..?
Right..?
Right….

 



 

 

Can you sense the tension between Jesus’ teachings, and the popular beliefs of His culture?

The Jewish people hated their enemies. They absolutely despised them. Have you read the Psalms lately?

And some of them had a bad taste in their mouth about God. They believed He was supposed to rescue them from their suffering.

Imagine the drama Jesus would have created by saying, “love God and love people.”

Imagine being asked to love God as your best friend is being cheated on their taxes.

Imagine being asked to love God, even though He hasn’t rescued your people from the hands of the Romans.

Imagine being asked to love God and seeing Him do nothing.

 

Not only that…

 

But imagine being asked to love your neighbor, even though your neighbor has taken over your entire country.

Imagine being asked to love your neighbor, even though your people have constantly been in misery because of their neighbor.

Imagine being asked to love your neighbor, even though your neighbor has unjustly accused your brother of theft and has murdered him in front of the masses.

 

We are so blessed to be living in this country.

But, sometimes living in America causes us to miss the greatest themes of the Bible.

 

 



 

 

Our country has done incredible things throughout its history. I do not want to downplay all we have gone through to gain our independence, freedom, and liberty.

But I do want us to note that our country has made mistakes.

If we are honest with ourselves, at some points in our history we have been the oppressors.

We look at what we did to the Native American communities, the African American communities, the Japanese communities during WWII, and how we treat those who want to come into our country as immigrants.

Sometimes the horrors of our past leak into our current beliefs, and this can effect how we read the Bible.

And if we are true to ourselves, we don’t know how intense these verses really are.

I know in my own heart that I get these two verses wrong a lot. I know we all get these verses wrong a lot.

I’ve seen us turning loving the Lord our God into loving the Lord ourself.

I’ve seen us replace who God says He is with who WE say He is.

We look at Jesus and we turn Him into what we want Him to be.

And sometimes, we look at God, Yahweh, and bend, mold, and shape Him to be more like a version of ourselves.

We say we love God, but sometimes we only love the parts of God that is likable. We take what we like about Him and we don’t allow Him to challenge our views. We don’t allow Him to change the way  we think about life, people, mercy, forgiveness, politics, grace, freedom, liberty, and love.

And sometimes we turn the Bible, a book about freedom, about justice in Christ, about hope in Jesus, and most importantly…this book about love…and sometimes we use it to judge.
to build walls around people.
to be exclusive.
to kick people out.
and sometimes we use it to spread our own hate.

 

 



 

 

Church, if our God isn’t challenging the way we think about everything, then maybe we aren’t worshipping God. Maybe we are worshipping ourselves.

And if our God has any ounce of hate toward any of our neighbors instead of love, then maybe we aren’t worshipping God. Maybe we our worshipping ourselves.

 

 



 

 

We are so blessed to be living in this country.

But, sometimes living in America causes us to miss the greatest themes of the Bible.

We can sometimes miss the power, the weight, the drama, and the intensity of what the Scriptures are trying to say.

And it’s all because we read the Bible from our own understanding, instead of leaning on His great knowledge.

We read the Bible from our perspectives, instead of seeking the perspective of the original audience.

Thus leading our interpretations to become irresponsible.

 

 



 

 

I know this was a crazy journey, and I know I threw a lot at you. But I want to leave you with three takeaways as we come to a conclusion.

  1. When you read the Bible, I ask of you to take off the shoes of your perspective and replace them with the shoes of the original audience. Study Jewish traditions, practices, and culture. This is imperative for understanding the Bible.
  2. Love the Lord your God with all of your heart and with all of your soul and with all of your mind. That means God needs to be your God, and you need to let Him be your God. Even if you are going through the toughest of trials, just like the Jewish nation, you are still asked to continue in furthering your love for Yahweh.
  3. Lastly, I ask you to love your neighbor as yourself. That means we gotta love people church. No matter what they look like, sound like, act like, smell like, or what other people think about them…we gotta love everyone. Even if they are our enemies.

Don’t allow your hate to outweigh your love. Don’t let malice define who you are. Be rooted in who God is and the love He has for all. Continue in your love for God and reciprocate that same love to all those around you.

Remember our past mistakes as a country so that we can turn them around and create a better future.

One full of God,
and one full of love.

 


 

 

 

9 comments

  1. Reply

    Hello Nic and thank you, firstly for popping onto my site and for the truly God inspired,’ Love God, Love People’. May Father continue to pour His blessings through you, to all those you encounter along the journey.
    Shalom

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reply

    Thank you Nic for checking out my very first blog ever! I pray Gods favor and blessing on the use of words to encourage and challenge others too. This piece you wrote does well in such a spiritual reflection. Good words and reflections to consider. Thank you. Grace and Peace

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Reply

    Very good read. You kept my attention throughout the whole piece. I am a bit curious a out the other 644 other laws.

    Like

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