Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
One of the great challenges to our understanding of life is found in how we view God’s commands, or to put it another way, “rules”.
Is following Jesus, the same thing as following rules? Is that all there is- checking off rules you’ve followed?
Yet another way of stating the same essential question is this: Should we view the God as being transactional or relational?
In the text above, the Pharisees were setting a trap for Jesus to see if they could entice Him into making the mistake of suggesting that we could neglect one command to favor another. If they could get Jesus to put one over another, then they could say something like, “Oh yeah? What about this, what about that, you heretic?!”
In His answer, Jesus covers all of the bases: Love God is the greatest, but the second is love your neighbor. Just in case they might think they could pounce, Jesus went one small step further, and when He did, He set their world on its ear:
All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. (22:40)
Our God is not a god of checklists, rulebooks and “gotcha!” He isn’t following us around trying to find a way to exclude us from relationship with Him: He loves you. If you think about it, this is the very definition of relational, not of transaction consisting or ordinances and violations followed by punishment and banishment.
God so loved you and me that He sent Jesus to die for us so that we might live eternally in relationship with Him, because He had no desire to punish anybody. This way, the choice is entirely ours of whether or not to live with Him.
Friends, that is some serious love!
Of course, we all misstep from time-to-time; we all mess up and fall short of Christ’s example, but take heart in this: God has gone to extreme measures to take care of this problem, for He knows that we are mere mortals living in a corrupted world and that we are not perfect.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
We have nothing to fear.