Loving = Obeying + Serving

I’ve been pondering Jesus’ ‘commandment thesis’ to Love God and Love Others for quite a while. (weeks, months…) Love is such an ambiguous word. Google it and you will get “Results 1 – 10 of about 2,350,000,000 for love [definition]. (0.09 seconds)” Isn’t that ridiculous? What is love? Click on that definition Google directs you to in the [] and you’ll find that 9 out of 10 of their definitions centre around some feeling of affection, passion, attachment, desire or enthusiasm. The one that stands out is #9 Christianity/Charity. We’ll get to that. I think that to ‘love’ is more than just some-kind-of-feeling, however strong it may be.

The Old Testament

Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” Deuteronomy 6:5

Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.” Leviticus 19:18

The New Testament

This ‘commandment thesis’ is quoted/mentioned in 3 of the 4 gospels. In Matthew 22:34-40 and Mark 12:28-34, it is discussed because teachers of the Law (Pharisees) ask Jesus what he thinks the greatest/most important commandment is. In Luke 10:25-28, an expert in the law asks Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life.

If you look further down chapter 6 in Deuteronomy to verses 13, 18, and 24, they read: “Fear the LORD your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name” and “Do what is right and good in the LORD’s sight” and “The LORD commanded us to obey all these decrees and to fear the LORD our God…” As much as we may prefer to define love in a fluffy huggable way, that kind of love might better be called “luf” – love for God is slightly, if not majorly, different. That is because of who God is. He is the ultimate authority of the universe! He is not ‘an invisible friend’. Although God loves us and though “to all who received [Jesus], to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12), when children have a father who is GOD… that merits some respect. Can you really say you love your parents unless you respect them and are obedient to them?

And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love. (2 John 1:6)

This is more bluntly put in the book prior:

This is love for God: to obey his commands. (1 John 5:3)

That is the kind of love that requires all your heart, soul and strength. Obedience to a holy and perfect God  can hardly ring up to less than that.

As for loving your neighbour as yourself, that is perhaps the more self-explanatory command of the two, but requires thinking about what the greatest act of love you’ve received is… Perhaps, first, love is to share that gift of salvation.

4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 
 6Who, being in very nature[a] God, 
      did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 
 7but made himself nothing
      taking the very nature[b] of a servant, 
      being made in human likeness.  (Philippians 2:4-7)

When [Jesus] had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. (John 13:12)

I think the love for your neighbour is a love inextricably linked to Jesus’ attitude. It doesn’t mean serving other’s whims so much as bearing their burdens. Just as Christ bore the burden of our sins, though he was blameless. It is an attitude of serving that keeps in mind always that the master is God.

You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature[a]; rather, serve one another in love. (Galatians 5:13)

That verse comes before yet another summary of the law to love your neighbour as yourself, this time given by Paul.

So, the conclusion after this long-winded quote exposition is:
Loving God  = Obeying God
Loving others = Serving others

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