One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; 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.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” — Mark 12:28-31
Today we’re looking at the climax of Jesus’s words in Mark 12: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Here Jesus uses agapeseis, the future indicative form of the verb agapaó “to love,” meaning “you shall love.” It’s the same form he used in verse 30 when he said, “You shall love the Lord your God.” It’s a funny form, indicating a fact already established in the future!
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
But what does that look like? To understand this, we need to look at another set of verses. The “Great Commandment” from Mark 12:28-31 that we have been using to guide our discussion over the last few weeks, and its parallel verses in Matthew 22, have a corresponding text in the “Great Commission” of Matthew 28:18-20:
All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
“Go,” Jesus tells us. The Greek here is poreuomai, which does, yes, mean “to go.” But it does not mean to simply leave. It does not mean to head out the door — et voila! — you’re all done.
Poreuomai means to travel, to journey, to conduct one’s life. All that Jesus is asking us to do here — reaching out to people, bringing them into the community of faith, teaching them, healing, showing love in ways they can understand — all that is to be a part of our everyday, our working, our living.
It is to be a part of our leading.
In their book Leadership on the Line, Ronald Heifetz and Marty Linsky write this about the importance of reaching out:
“Leadership is worth the risk because the goals extend beyond material gain or personal advancement. By making the lives of people around you better, leadership provides meaning in life. It creates purpose. We believe that every human being has something unique to offer, and that a larger sense of purpose comes from using that gift to help your organizations, families, or communities thrive. The gift might be your knowledge, your experience, your values, your presence, your heart, or your wisdom. Perhaps it’s simply your basic curiosity and your willingness to raise unsettling questions.”
Heifetz and Linsky reference parts of what we have been discussing: values, knowledge, heart, wisdom. While it sounds like something would have come from a religiously-centered text, this quote is ironically from a secular leadership book. We are not the only ones who believe that leadership is about more than getting the corner office!
But we are the ones who believe that human beings have been created in the image of God, and that our purpose is to glorify God and to demonstrate God’s love in the world.
On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 1 being low & 10 being high), what is your level of excitement right now about partnering with God in serving in the world?