Loving God, Loving Others

The numbers don’t seem to add up. Back in elementary school math, we all learned that a number like 613 is greater than 2. So how could the likes of Jesus and Paul say that 2 is actually equal to 613, and in fact 2 is greater than 613? That’s precisely the conclusion Jesus comes to in his encounter with a teacher of OT law in Matthew 22. 

   The Torah expert wants to know which, of all the commands, is the greatest. By the first century, rabbis had narrowed the Levitical laws to a list of 613 teachings that the faithful should, and presumably could, fulfill. There are some helpful instructions in those lists for sure, but that’s unwieldy and overwhelming to say the least. Does anything rise to the top? Does anything pull it all together? Actually, yes!

   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 neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments (Mt. 22:37-40).”‘ Paul echoes this idea when he says this. “The entire law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself (Gal. 5:14).'”

   Do you hear the math going on? Love sums up the entire law. Love equals all the teachings of God. Love is greater than all the commands. We make it complex, but God keeps it really simple. If all we do, how we spend our time and money, how we use our talents and resources, the conversations we have, the discussions and even disagreements we have, if it doesn’t add up to love of God and neighbor, then we’ve got the whole equation wrong. “Loving God, Loving Others” has been the simple, all encompassing mission of Chenal from the beginning, and while the world around us is constantly evolving, that aim will never change. 

About Alexis Peters