The last time we were together I shared my confusion with the religious practices of some Christians. Let me share with you more of the reason I get confused.
Being a Christian means a person is one of Christ’s Men (obviously, a term coined before our contemporary desire to be more inclusive in our language.) When someone claims to be a Christian they profess their desire to be “Christ-like” or one of “Christ’s men”. What does it mean for someone to be ‘Christ-like’? Being ‘Christ-like’ means reflecting the words and actions of Christ in a person’s interactions with others. So, what does it look like for someone to be a Christian?
Jesus answers that question in the Gospel (Good News) book of Mark chapter 12. One of the religious leaders asks Jesus which of the 613 Jewish commandments was the most important one for a faithful person to follow. Jesus surprises his listeners by consolidating all the laws into two commandments when he replies, “The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ “The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (NAS, Mark 12:28-31)
The brief mission statement for followers of Jesus then is to 1) love God and therefore 2) love who God loves-neighbors-as much as the Christian loves one’s self.
Jesus’ mission statement for his followers intertwines their relationship with God to their relationship with the other human beings wandering this earth. Loving God and loving our neighbor are two aspects of the same life goal.
Jesus continues to emphases the love necessary for his followers in the Gospel of John chapter 13 where he is quoted as saying, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all (people) will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (NIV, John 13:34-35)
Jesus doesn’t leave any doubt that living a loving life of sacrifice (As I have loved you…) with the rest of humanity.
Jesus is very clear about how one of his followers will act. A follower of Jesus will love God and all the human beings God has created as much as an individual can love one’s self.
My Jane taught me an important lesson after she read my last blog. She convicted me by stating that I was being just as judgmental (and unloving) toward the folks who confuse me as they are in their words and actions. She is correct. In another lifetime, back when I was job hunting my answer to the question, “What is your greatest weakness-or work area?” my answer was, “I am intolerant of intolerance.” So, yes, my words in my last blog were very judgmental of judgmental folks. My writing was not very Christ-like.
Let me just say this; Love does not judge. Love is not afraid. Love is welcoming. Love is forgiving. Love overcomes hate. Love is the way to peace.
Just testing to see if you were still reading. My Jane is more Christ-like then I am much of the time. That is obvious because she still lives with me and loves me after nearly 43 years on our shared life’s journey.
See you next time.