Mark 12:30-31 “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: … And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.”
We have argued and cursed. We have made points and counterpoints. We have insulted, ridiculed and refrained from speaking. We have been aggressive and passive aggressive. We have engaged and we have buried our heads in the sand. We have looted and killed.
We have had talks, classes, trainings and plenaries. We have written op-eds, scholarly articles, chapters, books and treatises. We have passed resolutions, ordinances and laws. We have had exercises and even weekend camps.
Yet, through all of this we still struggle with a problem that Jesus gave us the answer to over two thousand and twenty years ago.
First, we must love God. We must love Him “with all (of our) heart, and with all (of our) soul and with all (of our) mind and with all (of our) strength.” We must love his Word and His principles. Not a concept. Not a church building. Not a “way of doing things.” Not a ministry. Him.
This takes time. This takes the experience of the Holy Spirit helping to strip away our predilection for fulfilling the flesh’s dictates and substituting within us a desire to please Him. Romans 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit.” Until we as Believers actively walk after the Holy Spirit, we will be carnal slaves susceptible to stereotypes, slights, prejudice and fear.
Secondly, we must love our neighbor as ourselves. As we grow in our love toward God, He enables and increases our capacity to truly love others. Truly love one another —not emotional bosh. Not the cutesy kind of love that is chic to say but is void in application. Love that struggles to overcome when someone has hurt you. Love that endures when you have been a recipient of injustice. Love that recognizes that the image of God is truly in us all.
Matthew 5:44-45 “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you;” This is how we want to be loved and thus how we should love.
Andrae P. Crismon, Sr. is the pastor of Higher Ground Worship Center in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. He is also the author of “Lord, Keep My Mind Clean: A 31 Day Devotional & Accountability Journal” and “Pastor on Post: 30 Devotionals As Published in the Murfreesboro Post”. More information about Pastor Drae can be found at andraecrismon.org