#JustLove: The Greatest Commandment

The most important [commandment], answered Jesus, is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 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 12:29

One of my favourite films, and I know you’ll laugh at me for this, is Moulin Rouge, the story of a struggling writer and his relationship with a courtesan at the Moulin Rouge in Paris. At the heart of the film is a routine called the Elephant Love Medley, in which the writer, played by Ewan McGregor, attempts to seduce the courtesan, played by Nicole Kidman, through song. During the medley, he sings snippets of many famous love songs, thirteen in all, including Up Where We Belong, All You Need Is Love, and Your Song. Not only is the medley a spectacular audio and visual treat, it also attests both to the power of a love song in our culture, and also to the power of love itself.

The greatest commandment

Jesus talked about the power and importance of love many times during his ministry, including in chapter twelve of Mark’s gospel. In this passage he spoke of the importance of loving God, and loving our neighbours as ourselves. As we strive to live our lives as #digidisciples, modelling the Christian life to all those we encounter online, it is worth reflecting on these verses. As we consider how modern Christians might use Google+ effectively, or seek to use Facebook and Twitter to share the gospel, we need to occasionally remind ourselves why we’re bothering.

Jesus tells us to love our neighbours as ourselves, and this can be applied to our digital neighbours just as much as our physical neighbours. This, though, is only the second commandment. The command to love our neighbours flows from the first.

We are called first to love the Lord our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our mind and with all our strength. This should be our number one priority.

Why love God?

Why, though? Why should we love God?

John, in his first letter, gives us a very good reason. He says, ‘we love because [God] first loved us’ (1 John 4:19). Our love for God is a response to his love for us.

Of course, he doesn’t force us to love him. He loves all the people he has created, but he gives us the freedom either to love him in return or turn our backs on him. Jesus himself made this clear when he stated, ‘I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous’ (Matthew 5:44-45). He loves and blesses all people, those who seek to follow him, the righteous; and those who don’t, the unrighteous.

As a Christian I believe that there are plenty of reasons for loving God. There is one in particular that stands out, however. John mentions this in his letter, saying, ‘this is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins’ (1 John 4:9-10).

Without Jesus we are condemned to death. Every day, we do things that disappoint God, and fail to do the things that he expects of us.

Through Jesus we have life

Through Jesus, however, we have life. When we say sorry for all that we have done wrong, accept that he died in our place, and promise to try to live a better life, we receive eternal life. As John stated in his gospel, ‘God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life’ (John 3:16).

I don’t know about you, but for me that is a very good reason to love God!

At this point you’re probably thinking, yes, I know all this. What has this got to do with living as a #digidisciple?

It has everything to do with being a #digidisciple.

This is the gospel that we seek to proclaim when we engage with others, both online and offline. This acceptance of Christ’s death and resurrection, that he died for you and for me, is what should underpin our entire lives.

If we truly believe this gospel, our love for God should be evident for all to see. It should distinguish our tweets, status updates and blog posts from the constant stream in people’’s timelines. It should also inspire us to follow the second commandment, to love our neighbours as ourselves. This is the topic I shall turn to next month.

For now though, just reflect on whether you truly love God. Do you live for your faith? Does your love for God distinguish you from the crowd?

This, after all, is the key to living as a #digidisciple.

This article was originally published by The Big Bible Project. To consolidate reflection and debate please leave any thoughts on this post on the appropriate page at BigBible.org.uk.

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