Matthew 22:36-39 (NIV): “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: ““Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbour as yourself.””
How’s that for a challenge? You’re not following me?
Well, Jesus said that we have to love God totally and completely – that’s the most important thing to do, the first and greatest commandment. It’s the second one that presents the challenge.
Love your neighbour as yourself. That’s a huge challenge – why?
Because I have to love myself! In order to love my neighbour, I have to love myself. I can only love them as I love myself.
So who is my neighbour? Is it really only the people that live next-door? In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus taught that loving your neighbour means more than loving your immediate circle of family, friends and next-door neighbours. He taught that loving your neighbour means more than just being kind and considerate to people you meet in your day-to-day life. He taught that loving your neighbour meant more than just being respectful, generous and tolerant. He taught that loving your neighbour means searching for the outcast, the rejected, the marginalised, the abused. It means drawing alongside them, making space for them, listening to them, getting close to them, accepting them as they are, looking for the spark of Christ in them, searching within them for the likeness of God – for He is surely there, as we are all created in His image – and then holding out the hand of love and friendship, being pro-active to right wrongs and to end injustices.
I can only love them as I love myself, and to do that I need to have a God-given perspective of who and what I am because it’s easy to be self-depreciating and to hold myself unforgiven, and to beat myself up over past mistakes, to drag up memories of past sin and feel so very, very unrighteous and unworthy. But what does God say about who I am, and what I am? His word tells me that I am:
- His beloved
- His prize
- His bride
- The apple of His eye
- A new creation
- A temple of His Spirit
- One in Christ
- Fearfully and wonderfully made
- Set free
Thank you Lord for your great love for me, and thank you that you have that same love for everyone I meet, for everyone who has ever and will ever live here on earth. Help me Lord to have a right self-image, and to see you in others, that I may love myself and my neighbour. Amen