During his ministry, Jesus taught us to selflessly love God and others completely. As Jesus followers, these two “great commandments” must be at the heart of all that we do, think and say. It should guide our actions and inform our motives. If we claim to be obedient to the will of God, as expressed in the life and teachings of Jesus, these teachings be at the forefront of our Faith.
Love of God and love of Others is the core of Jesus' teaching on Love, and summarized the teachings of the Jewish prophets and Law.
“Teacher,” Jesus was asked, “which is the great commandment in the Law?” His answer? “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.” (Matt. 22:36-40.)
While many Christians have heard these words before, many, if not most, don’t take them to their fullest meaning, and others lessen their importance, either by minimizing their intended impact, or by de-emphasizing them entirely.
Much of what Jesus taught was extremely simple to grasp, while being extremely challenging, in the sense that his teachings challenged us to actively pursue righteousness in our actions and to seek God by pursuing Godliness in our hearts.
And while this summary of the Law and the Prophets did simplify the message God sends to His people, it was never meant to mean that religion only means that we need have “warm feelings” for both God and for our fellow human beings and that we can leave it at that. Nor does this crucial saying end the necessity for Good Works nor nullify any of God’s Moral Law, as evangelical Christians often assert.
The nature of the Great Commandment is to reiterate the basics of the faith the Jews had inherited from their Fathers. It wasn't about the hundreds of man-made rules and regulations that the Pharisees and other groups had created over the centuries. Jesus condemned those and said they separated men from God.
But while some would like to believe Jesus said, “Just acknowledge God’s existence and be nice to one another,” (or who deny that anything further than mere acknowledgement is possible for a human being) the Great Commandment asks for more than that.
The Great Commandment is a challenge – and a rather radical one. Namely, that God must become the absolute center of our lives – and not just on Sunday at 11 o’clock in the morning. God must be loved with ALL our hearts and ALL our soul and ALL our mind, at all times. One hundred percent is required, no less.
This is a call to do good - a call to serve Others, just as Jesus served others. We are able to serve just as Jesus served, we are commanded to do so, and Jesus confirms this with his words (John 14:23-24) which will never pass away (Matt. 24:35.) Only those who DO what is right, as Jesus has commanded, is righteous, just Jesus was righteous (1 John 3:7.)
We have no right to claim to be a follower of Jesus if we don't strive to love God completely and serve others just as Jesus did. Nor may we "claim" our eternal salvation from God if we don't consequently seek to act righteously as both He and His Chosen Spokesman commanded.
We are to be the hands and words and comforting arms of God's Kingdom here on Earth. We are called by Jesus to be a People of God, to serve Others in the name of God's Anointed servant, Jesus. And we are called to forgive others, if we expect to be forgiven by God (Mark 6:14-15.)
There are some who go on to deny that we can ever do this, being lowly human beings, weak in our flesh. But they forget that our flesh was created by God, and that God knows us and would not command that we do what we are unable to do.
God adopted, chose, anointed and sent the man Christ Jesus, to both proclaim our ability to do what God asks us to do, and to demonstrate by his selfless and perfectly moral life that Godliness may indeed be manifested in a human being, and that ALL may do as Jesus has done. This is Good News, and we must proclaim it to the world.