I’m moving back to Utah soon, and as the move approaches, my anxiety increases. I am seriously nervous about the way my people who call themselves Christian, seem to be seriously lacking in the pure love of Christ. I count myself among them. I have been so frustrated lately by the amount of judgment I hear, and lack of tolerance I see, from members of my own faith. It’s hard to want to go back into that culture.
We place judgment on others and call them evil because they are different from us. We fear what we don’t understand. We forget that we are all children of the same Heavenly Father, and that he loves us all equally.
. . . If you love me keep my commandments
Keeping the first of the greatest commandments should come easy if you are truly a Christian, but the second of the two greatest commandments is not so easy for many (including myself).
Loving one another is second only to loving God, and all the law and prophets are inseparably connected to these two commandments (Matt 22:37 – 40).
The parable of The Good Samaritan explains this love, and I read the story closely while in church last week. As I pointed out before, Jesus asked us to love others as He loves us. I know how much Jesus loves me; he loves me so much that he was willing to suffer unbearable pain and die for me. He would have done this even if I had been the only person on earth. God’s love is more than just “neighborly”, it is absolutely immense. So when the scribe asked Jesus what the greatest commandment was, and Jesus responded with the two commandments saying that there were no commandments greater than these, the scribe sought to clarify the word neighbor, saying “. . . to love his neighbor as himself is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices” (Mark 12:28-33), Loving everyone as Jesus did is at a magnitude that I can barely imagine. I ALWAYS fall short.
I think the lawyer at the Sermon on the Mount was trying to get clarification of that same word when he asked “who is my neighbor?” He probably didn’t get the answer he was looking for, but Jesus was clear when he asked “Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbor unto him that fell among the thieves” (Luke 10: 36)? The answer was obvious to the lawyer, but I don’t think it is obvious to the average person today. Often well-meaning Christians take the parable to mean that we should serve all people, not just those we are comfortable with. (I have heard it from EVERYONE, not just Mormons.) The truth is that the message comes from the Samaritan himself. He was the “enemy” who exhibited the true love of Christ. He could have been a Jew, a Muslim, or a homosexual. It is far more than just serving them, it is about loving them as they are–I have experienced such Christ-like love from so many unexpected people–in fact, those who are most loving and accepting are those who subscribe to no religion at all. I wish I could be, I want to be, more like them.
Along with these commandments, Jesus lived his life loving and accepting those who are different from us without judgement, most specifically explaining that being sinners ourselves, we have no right to judge the behaviors of others because judging others is the epitome of hypocrisy (Matt 7: 1-5).
Well, ready or not, I’m heading back to Utah. I know, I’ve had my run-ins by many who think they know me, but can’t understand me, but I’m sure I’ll be able to find many examples of Samaritan-type love there, and I hope I’ll be able to bring some with me as well.
This wasn’t necessarily my best post ever, but I hope you get my point. Love you!