Reblogged from: Orange Community of Christ’s “Peace Blog”
One of the religion scholars came up. Hearing the lively exchanges of question and answer and seeing how sharp Jesus was in his answers, he put in his question: “Which is most important of all the commandments?”
Jesus said, “The first in importance is, ‘Listen, Israel: The Lord your God is one; so love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.’ And here is the second: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ There is no other commandment that ranks with these.”
The religion scholar said, “A wonderful answer, Teacher! So lucid and accurate—that God is one and there is no other. And loving him with all passion and intelligence and energy, and loving others as well as you love yourself. Why, that’s better than all offerings and sacrifices put together!”
When Jesus realized how insightful he was, he said, “You’re almost there, right on the border of God’s kingdom.”
-Mark 12:28-34, The Message
This morning, I spent some time dwelling in the above text. I have decided that I love this passage for a couple reasons. First, it points out the two most important commandments: to love God and others. Second, it is a story of awareness, expectation, and hope.
The context of this passage is astounding. The religious scholar who poses the interrogating question is so impressed with Jesus’ response, that his own cynicism and suspicion is silenced. It is a moment of transformation, of awareness. The scholar is essentially admitting that the “temple activities of the priests [are] redundant.”
In Jesus’ response, I hear the relief mixed with excitement, “You get it! You’re hearing what I’m saying! You’re almost there! God’s kingdom is within your grasp!”
So, this morning as I read through this passage, I thought about our congregation. I thought about our cynicism, our attempts to live the kingdom life, our relationships, our suspicions about being on the right track, our seeking to understand what it means to be a faith community in a shifting context and culture. In the midst of our ritual and tradition, Jesus enters in, perhaps offending, surprising, or exciting. We are reminded to turn our attention to what matters most: love God, love others.
We know that these two commandment are packed with tremendous implication. The kingdom requires a personal & systemic response to all situations and places that are “anti-kingdom.” Darrell L. Guder writes that, “the message of the kingdom come and coming implies response, decision, on the part of those who hear its witness… There is no area of life outsides God’s reign, which means that the rule of God always opposes the other gods and powers which seek to enslave humans.”
So how will we respond? With awareness? With silence? With admission of a greater vision in our midst? Do we “get it?” Do we understand the heart of the message?
I believe that we too are almost there. We stand on the border. We are “poised.” We anticipate the kingdom and we see it. Our cynicism fades away. Our doubt & fear recede also. Awareness does its work within us. Transformation begins… and continues. Something incredible is on the horizon and we have been assured that we are so very close to discovering it more fully.
My hope is that we may pay attention to one another’s growth, awareness, & steps toward realizing the kingdom of God in this place, personally and corporately in our acts of peace and justice and love. Each time we grow deeper in relationship with one another, lend a helping hand, connect with a stranger, make life changes toward earth healing, practice generosity and extravagant hospitality with strangers and neighbors, any small thing that we can do is worthy of our celebration and attention.
As we celebrate our small steps toward understanding, may we share these words continually with one another in encouragement, celebration, anticipation: “You’re almost there, right on the border of God’s kingdom.”
– Katie Harmon-McLaughlin