Sunday, November 27, 2016

Why we Must Live the Great Commandment

Romans 13:8-12 (NLT): Living the Great Commandment

These—and other such commandments—are summed up in this one commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law. (Romans 13:10)
Life can be a rollercoaster of emotion, and at the peaks and valleys of that ride are the faces of those we encounter. Coming out of the tumult of time with family at Thanksgiving, we enter into the preparation for Christ’s coming through Advent. This is a time to reflect on God’s great love for us. Throughout Advent, Scripture reminds us of how God calls us to love one another. And in the busyness of Christmas preparation, spending, and gathering, loving each other with the heart of Christ can be a challenge.

In chapter 13 of Romans, Paul focuses on Christ’s commandment to love: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (9). Loving the person in front of us, Paul states, is the basis of who we are in Christ. In 13:11, Paul continues by giving a valid reason for the necessity of neighborly love: “[Loving your neighbor] is all the more urgent, for you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for our salvation is [near].” Paul advises his hearers to reexamine their faith, for many have been ignoring this fundamental tenet of Christianity. Paul’s proclamation to neighborly love, however, traverses generations to our own place and time.

Although Paul was shaking up those tepid in their faith during the first century in Rome, his message reverberates in our day, too. We are to live our Christian lives in the moment, knowing that God’s kingdom is right in front of us. Our lives need to be tuned in to the love of Christ in the world so that we become vessels overflowing with God’s love and grace.

As we prepare for Advent, as we shop for our Christmas presents, as we make ready for the gathering of family, let us keep in mind the core of our faith, for it is so easily lost in the frenetic pace of the Christmas season. Let us love each other with the love that God gives us. In Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Fred Holywell offers a beautiful meditation on how Christmas should open our hearts to love:

But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely…

I pray that we open our hearts to the love of God, allowing His love to pour out and penetrate the person in front of us. Amen.

Have a blessed week.