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This outer garment is older and has some pieces that aren’t working the way they should, but in return my mind and heart are clearing, gaining a hold on a singular purpose – to love the LORD my God with all my heart, with all my strength, and with all my understanding.

What a change this loves makes in your life. After Jesus talks with one of the Pharisees about this they add to love your neighbor as yourself. That is the sum of the Law.

I’m pretty sure that I’ve never met, nor has anyone else met, someone who could love their neighbor, let alone anyone else, the way they should if they don’t love God first and foremost and with everything they have. Once you’ve at least taken the first steps in that direction the love your neighbor bit comes much more easily. Not to mention the “as yourself” bit.

What does loving your neighbor look like? Not killing. Not stealing. Not envying their stuff and lusting after their spouse. Not lying to them. That’s the Clif Notes version, anyway.

What else does it look like? Sharing. Sharing what? God’s Word. Showing. Showing what? That you don’t take God’s name in vain. That you have no idols. That you don’t worship other things. That you honor those God has placed over you.

OK, great. So that’s what I’m supposed to be doing with the folks next door? Yes. For starters.

For starters?

Yes. For starters. There’s another piece of the puzzle. Go out into all the world, into Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and all the rest, to every tribe and nation. Your neighbor isn’t only the guy who lives in the place next door. Your neighbor is everyone you come in to contact with. Love them.

The Muslim? Yes.

The gay guy or gal? Yes.

The atheist? I am unaware of Jesus stuttering or being unsure about this. Yes.

The guy that hit me? Especially him. Or her.

The black dude I see selling crack on the corner? Yup.

The alcoholic who beats his wife? Definitely.

That white dude I know is helping traffic children? Oh yeah.

It’s not going to be easy. God didn’t mean for it to be. Here’s the thing. When is the last time something changed for the better without someone sharing a reason for it to change for the better? When was the last time hitting someone back worked out for everyone? Never.

When has love worked? Whenever and wherever love was shared.

Too often we hear the words, “evil triumphs when good men do nothing” as a call to arms, a physical fight. Jesus never took up arms. Yes, in the temple he used a whip and expressed anger – but for discipline, not harm. Jesus loves us. All of us. Don’t use the actions of someone who doesn’t know him be your excuse to join them in their madness.

That sums up what has been going on in my mind the past year or so. I’ve nearly finished my bachelors degree (one class left!), worked for a youth ministry, joined the board of the Peace River Center for Writers at Edison State College, and seen God do beautiful things with some of the loveliest (and unloveliest) people I’ve ever known.

What have you been up to?

 

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