When the Pharisees heard how he had bested the Sadducees, they
gathered their forces for an assault. One of their religion scholars
spoke for them, posing a question they hoped would show him up:
"Teacher, which command in God's Law is the most important?"
Jesus said, "'Love the Lord your God with all your passion
and prayer and intelligence.' This is the most important, the
first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it:
'Love others as well as you love yourself.' These two commands
are pegs; everything in God's Law and the Prophets hangs from
As the Pharisees were regrouping, Jesus caught them off balance
with his own test question: "What do you think about the
Christ? Whose son is he?" They said, "David's son."
Jesus replied, "Well, if the Christ is David's son, how
do you explain that David, under inspiration, named Christ his
'God said to my Master,
"Sit here at my right
until I make your enemies
Now if David calls him 'Master,' how can he at the same time
be his son?"
That stumped them, literalists that they were. Unwilling to risk
losing face again in one of these public verbal exchanges, they
quit asking questions for good.
Seemingly there is nothing that is one and one alone. Uniqueness
only makes sense within a community of differences. As we note
our tendency to want one answer, we note also the way in which
Jesus offers two responses that play off of one another. This
is important modeling for us as we proceed into the rest of life
- not looking for one way, but the dynamic edges that rub against
one another sparking new insight.
Now that we all know the right answer for the single most important
commandment is twofold, begin imagining both a third being added
to it and a whole other starting point.
Might we start with an earlier set of commandments: "Light!"
"Sky!" "Separate!" "Green up and grow!"
"More Lights!" "Sea: Life!" "Air: Life!"
"Land: Life!" "Human beings: Life!" "Commonwealth:
Life!" "Rest!" "Goodness: Continue!"
Might we start with a later set of commandments: "New Heaven!"
What "commandment" is most important for you these
days? And what are you doing about it?
I love it when I am caught in a literalism that can't stand on
its own because it is part of a whole constellation of presumptions.
This is a reminder of how easy it is for all of us to literally
make up more than can be known. Thank GOD for calling our literalisms
to our awareness so we can finally put them down and get real.
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