In the middle of this year, I had a bit of a revelation and a nervous break-down. Okay, it wasn’t that dramatic but it was a moment that shook my world so hard that I am still trying to understand what it meant. It’s not something I can easily explain – I have tried and failed many times to put it into words.
It all started with a few verses in the bible. I was studying for something and came across Matthew 22:36-40 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all they heart, and with all they soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love they neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
It was so important that this is repeated in Luke (10:25-28). There Jesus defines neighbor with the story of the Good Samaritan.
While I knew this, what I realized was something I hadn’t before. As a Christian, I am asked to love – that’s it. While the ten commandments are still in play, they are unnecessary if I live these two commandments.
This has prompted a ton of discussions – with family, friends, the bishop. What I have come to realize is this – Jesus believed that everyone had value and it was our responsibility to care for those who cannot care for themselves. He did not ask us to be judge and jury (in fact he asked the opposite). He did not ask us to make laws that force our neighbors to live with our believes or to prevent them from sinning. He asked us to love.
With this year’s controversy being gay marriage, I’ve thought a lot about what Jesus is asking us to do. I support gay marriage. I support gay relationships. I support love – end of story. So why does loving my neighbor come so difficultly? Well if it was easy, I don’t think it would have been necessary to deem it the greatest commandment. Jesus (and God) knew it was going to be hard.
So what does this have to do with 2015. Well, love seems to be where I need the most work. In 2013, I wrote a blog post on using love as my theme for the year. I had forgotten. This is obviously where I need the most work. I have great love for my fellow man but I know I am imperfect. I get impatient. I get critical. I forget to love.
I’ve been making a conscious effort to remind myself to love. More importantly, I’ve decided it is my duty as a Christian to love, to fight, to protect. I will not be able to do it all but I can be an example. I have my challenges in place.
I will no longer subdue in fear. While some of you may feel I never am subdued, the truth is I am afraid to be judged, to be rejected. So I don’t stand up when I know I should. I don’t speak out when I know I can. I forget to be the example. I hold my tongue so that I will be liked.
This is not fair to myself. And as my mother said “how can you love your neighbor if you don’t love yourself?” So you will see that this coming year – I pledge to love myself, God and my neighbor.
Currently, I am working on that plan. I would love for you to join me.
I want to throw in one more nugget that has been “haunting” me this year. I read in a Buddhist book that when it comes to the commandment “do not kill”, it is not enough to not take life. If you are not actively trying to better the lives of others then you are just as responsible for their death. While that is not a direct quote and I’m sure it was more eloquently written, it reminds me that Buddhists aren’t the only ones who should be standing up for others. As a Christian, a follower of Christ, it is my duty to stand for those who need the support. It is my duty to be a voice for those who can’t be heard and to fight injustice. That is what Jesus would have done.