Pastor Donna Clark Fuller, Rock Port and Watson United Methodist Churches
“Which commandment is the first of all?” Mark 12:28
A scribe, someone who had studied all the commandments, asks Jesus which is most important. There were many, many commandments. There were so many laws that people had a hard time remembering all of them much less obeying all of them. So this man wants to know which is most important to make sure he lives according to that commandment at least.
Today we also have so many laws that it is hard to know them all and we also try to obey the ones that are most important or will carry the biggest consequence if we break them.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” Mark 6:30
Jesus begins with the source of all the commandments – God. The first thing we need to do is to focus on God and give God all of our love, to love with everything we have.
“The second is this, you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Mark 6:31
Well, that about covers everything, doesn’t it? Just love everyone, starting with God and we won’t have any problems. But this loving your neighbor thing can be hard sometimes. Sometimes we only want to love our immediate family, friends, maybe those folks in church or our community that are most like us. And some people are just plain hard to love.
“On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Matthew22:40
All those many laws, both then and now, are designed to show us exactly how to fulfill these two simple, but not necessarily easy, commandments.
It is easy today to think of our system of laws as existing apart from God, designed by humans with a goal of simply avoiding conflict. Sometimes, though, we end up with conflicting laws because there are conflicting interests among different people. It can seem as if there is no unifying purpose to our system of laws but only a collection of laws worked out by compromise among different interest groups. But starting with these commandments to love God and our neighbors gives us a higher purpose and a unifying goal for our laws. God calls us to do more than just avoid harming someone else, because otherwise we might go to jail. God calls us to do more than refrain from destructive actions. God calls us to positive action in the world. God calls us to love.