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“Love your neighbor as yourself, as long as they love you equally in return, vote the same way you do, dress according to your standards, and meet the ethical code that you believe you think they should.”
Where in the Bible does it say that? Nowhere. But that’s how a lot of erm, “Christians” act, isn’t it? So what does the Bible say?
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31
To give you some context, this is Jesus responding to a question of what the most important commandment was. This question was coming from the religious leaders, who were known not by their intimate relationship with the Lord, but by their outward acts and Jesus exposed their hypocrisy. So, I have a suspicion that this question wasn’t aimed to ask “What can I do to grow in my walk with the Lord?” but “What can I do to make myself look better to men?”
Now something strange happened, the religious leader responded positively to what Jesus said:
“‘Well said, teacher,’ the man replied. ‘You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.’ Mark 12:32-33
We don’t often see teachers of the law in the New Testament that Jesus comes into contact with that just simply get it.
Our lives aren’t about what we do. They’re about how we are loved and how we love God and others. They’re about serving the needs of our communities, our churches, our families, and reaching out when we can out of love. If we don’t start loving, we’ll never see a change.
What change do we need to see? Jesus commanded us to love no matter how we are treated in return. He didn’t say if someone else doesn’t love you, it’s okay to hate them. He didn’t say if someone else has different beliefs it’s okay to hate them. He didn’t say if someone else is on the opposite side of the political spectrum, it’s okay to hate them. He didn’t say under any circumstances that it is okay to hate anyone else. Jesus commanded us to love each other as ourselves and that is not dependent on someone else’s action, beliefs, or identity.