Today’s reading from the Gospel of Luke is a familiar one; Jesus is answering a lawyer’s query about what it takes to be saved, to secure eternal life – actually to ‘inherit’ eternal life. And Jesus instructs the questioner to read from the book, from scripture. Wow. Jesus is such an amazing teacher! Isn’t it true that questions are best answered and understood when we discover we knew the answer all along? That the answer was right there before us?
27… ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself.’
And at that point, Jesus affirms and assures the lawyer that the right passage was read. The lawyer has another question, though. What exactly is a neighbor? And at this, instead of pointing to scripture for the answer, Jesus teaches using the parable of the robbed man on his way to Jericho.
Hmm. Eternal life – life with and alongside God – is inherited by loving God wholly – holy – all of who we are, HEART, SOUL, STRENGTH, MIND….and…wait for it – NEIGHBOR. Loving God is not something we can do in isolation. That love, though it resides inside of us – in our hearts, souls, bodies and minds – can only be given to God, is only alive and animated by being in relationship. There has to be an ‘other’ for our love to be whole, holy and offer-able to God.
Richard Rohr says it this way:
“In solitude, at last, we’re able to let God define us the way we are always supposed to be defined—by relationship: the I-thou relationship, in relation to a Presence that demands nothing of us but presence itself. Not performance but presence”
Interestingly, when I began a search for an image to attach to this post, I found many that illustrated the first four aspects of the love Jesus describes necessary for our Abba Father, but not one which integrated the ‘other’ aspect. The image posted here is the only one that spoke to the fifth aspect of love that Jesus teaches. The irony of the reminder this billboard alludes to is not lost on me, as if the “loving neighbor” aspect has been lost in the shuffle of an individually-focused – its’ all about me , personal salvation Christianity to the point that a clever billboard is the only way to breakthrough! It seems to me we have a tough time comprehending that the necessary aspects of loving our God, Father and Holy Spirit requires an ‘other’.
Love. Relationship. I-Thou. All of me connected to all of you. In Him. Of Him. Following Him.
The Spirit has me thinking about all of this today, and most especially about you. We’re in this together.