What Does Like Mean?

I love the way Jesus answered questions. He always seemed to get to the heart of the matter, or he had a remarkable ability to thread the needle when the religious establishment tried to catch him in his words with hot button issues. Whether it was then or now, Jesus leaves you and me not only with a right answer, but with the question of how we will rightly respond.

On at least two different occasions, Jesus led people to a single answer in response to two different questions– “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the lord our God, the lord is one. And you shall love the lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:29-31).

My question is how is the second like the first? Let me propose an answer and let me propose a response, especially as we are going through the effort to stem the spread of COVID-19. The second is like the first in love. Let me cut to the chase; Jesus taught that love for God is a “total love.” We love God with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, with all our strength, because that is how he loved us. It’s an all-in kind of love between God and us.

Many of us have heard that from pulpits and Sunday or Sabbath School teachers since we attended Cradle Roll. So, what has been our response? An occasional, “Amen?” A hymn or praise chorus? Now here is the rub, folks. If we are called to an all-in love for God, and Jesus said the commandment to love our neighbors is like it, then aren’t we called to an all-in kind of love for others?

Where does that leave hording toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and Clorox wipes? Let me propose that if you are well stocked with these items then you are in a great position to share it with your neighbor who lacks it. Thanks Jesus!