November 5, 2000

Mark 12:28-34

One of the religion scholars came up. Hearing the lively exchanges of question and answer and seeing how sharp Jesus was in his answers, he put in his question: "Which is most important of all the commandments?"

Jesus said, "The first in importance is, 'Listen, Israel: The Lord you God is one; so love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.' And here is the second: 'Love others as well as you love yourself.' There is no other commandment that ranks with these."

The religion scholar said, "A wonderful answer, Teacher! So lucid and accurate -- that God is one and there is no other. And loving him with all passion and intelligence and energy, and loving others as well as you love yourself. Why, that's better than all offerings and sacrifices put together!"

When Jesus realized how insightful he was, he said, "You're almost there, right on the border of God's kingdom.

After that, no one else dared ask a question.



1. The typical answer from Jesus expands our thinking. The most important becomes two important commandments. How to move our thinking from one layer of thoughts to another is a spiritual task set before us all. It is the dividing line between being a beginner in the faith, a liquids-drinker, to becoming mature in the faith, a solids-eater. It is this lateral kind of thinking, not the linear, which measures our nearness to the "kindom" of God where both Pharisee and Jesus link up.

2. In these days when religion is getting a some play in the national elections, it is important to raise the question of what folks think these two key commandments mean. They are now easily dropped from lips, but putting some flesh on them is much more difficult. They have become buzz-words and the source of material for spin doctors. We need to think these through rather than just let them sound good.

3. How do we love God and Neighbor and still allow hunger and ignorance to flourish? How do we love God and Neighbor and not be advocates for the diversity of creation to be appreciated and honored? How do we love God and Neighbor without being challenged by God in seeing a neighbor as family and being challenged by our neighbors to see God beyond the ways we have previously seen God?

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