Deut 6:2-6; Hebr 7:23-28; Mk 12:28b-34
Jean-Francois Millet - The Good Samaritan
One of the scribes, when he came forward and heard them disputing and saw how well he had answered them, asked him, "Which is the first of all the commandments?" Jesus replied, "The first is this: 'Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these." The scribe said to him, "Well said, teacher. You are right in saying, 'He is One and there is no other than he.' And 'to love him with all your heart, with all your understanding, with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself' is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices." And when Jesus saw that (he) answered with understanding, he said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." And no one dared to ask him any more questions. Mk 12:28b-34
"You must love your neighbour as yourself". If our love for God is real, Christ is saying, it will express itself in love for our fellow human beings. Obviously this love is different from the particular and exclusive love that we reserve for family relationships and the people we're emotionally close to.
The love that Christ is proposing here is more a determined effort of will to surrender our own self-interest for the sake of the needs or the welfare of others. It's more a matter of a basic stance towards anyone and everyone - our "neighbour" - than a matter of the emotions that come into play in our close relationships.
Jesus' own illustration of this love is the behaviour of the Good Samaritan, putting himself out and looking after a complete stranger. This was a love that's free from any calculation of results or benefits for ourselves. It doesn't seek any reward. Christ himself showed this form of love throughout his ministry, most of all when he went to his death praying for the people who had conspired to kill him.
The Good Samaritan by Ronald Rae, Glenrothes
So there's something costly and difficult about this Christian love. It's the one thing that enhances our spiritual stature and brings out our resemblance to God. But at the same time it goes against the grain of all our more self-seeking inclinations, and that's where the problems can start.
By Dave Perry