First love

First love

Religion is complicated. It can put you off talking about it. But it is actually simple to say how Christianity works and how your friends can join in

Yes, Christianity gets most complicated when it gets into positions of power or when it gets to be an old habit that you take for granted. If you read any Facebook, Christianity gets weird when it stands apart from normal life or when it gets reduced to a system of rules and rituals.  Are you caught up in any of these? That is not what Jesus taught.

Like us, Jesus also thought that religion was too complicated. In this story, he shows that anyone can live Christianity beautifully. It is all about one particular thing. Here it is: 

Matthew 22:34-40: “An expert in Biblical Law tested him with this question: “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.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

In that one story, Jesus brought together two laws from his beloved Jewish Bible and turned them into a Love that gives Life.  It is that simple. If your excellent theology doesn’t increase your Love, as Jesus describes it, you have a shonky theology. If your services of worship are not recognizable as expressions of The Love, just an intention that does not translate, then cancel your services.

It is all one love ‘from the heart’, the Master said. Your heart is how God’s love can flow into you and overflow through you to your world. That heart full of Love is in fact the very reason you are alive.  Because God is all about love and not compliance, you do have to choose it.

How you can Live One Love Like Jesus?

It is easy to sentimentalise it, to tame it, make God’s love no more than the ultimate  comfort zone. Jesus described it as taking up your cross, encountering opposition. To spell it out a bit further, to make it practical in life, to make it less sentimental, to make it less religious, Jesus said a few more things about The Love – love one another, love your enemies, love the world.

A bit challenging, yes? Each of them needs a conversion, a choosing to love like the Lord Jesus. Are you converted to all of this love, or just to selected bits?  As he said: “Do this and you shall live.” (Lk 10.28).

Ian Robinson is a Lecturer at  United Theological College

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