November 2, 2003

Mark 12:28-43

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 your 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 God 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.

[The Message]


1. Now why wouldn't anyone else dare to ask a question? Might it be that they sensed how dangerous it is to merely get to the border of GOD's presence? Doesn't that lead to having to make a choice? Doesn't that lead to challenging the way religious and cultural business is done? If you get even that close, won't you run into decisions that will change your life more than you are willing to have it changed?

2. One of the difficult things to wrestle with is a multi-valent reality. A seven-story creation brings us to a variety of levels. At the least we are to love the common creator and to love the creation-wide family we are part of. Ask about one and you will get two. What happens if you were to ask about the two most important perspectives on life -- would you get a three (arithmetic) or a four (geometric) perspective response? What can you think of that would go beyond these commandments bound together by love? If nothing, get on with these. If something, live them all.

3. When was the last time you heard a lively discussion in church that wasn't acrimonious, that was searching for the growth point of all concerned? I suspect that more lively discussion would be attractive to those outside the church. Almost as attractive as any evidence of our love of one another. If lively discussions are not going on where you are, what presence of Holy Spirit do you need to do your part of starting one? It probably won't be through the giving of simple answers to complex issues. It is more likely to be through the posing of good questions. Ask away.