"Listen to what I mean, not what I say."
That's something you've probably hear me say. I say it all the time. Mostly because I am often not good at articulating what I want to say - or I've said something ridiculous or just put my foot in my mouth.
The Gospel lesson this week has me thinking about something similar - what does scripture say versus what does it mean?
The Gospel lesson for this Sunday is from Matthew. Jesus is asked by the Pharisees which commandment in the law is the greatest. Love God and love your neighbors is Jesus' very simple response. Easily said in a few words. But living out it's meaning is hard stuff - right?
Read Matthew 22: 34-46
This reminds me of the time I was working with youth and young adults preparing for a mission trip to Brazil. We were working together to come up with a list of rules we would all agree to abide by while traveling, serving, and being in community together. After we came up with a fairly long list, one of the students suggested we just make one rule that would cover all the others - "Don't be a jerk." So that became our catch phrase for the trip and an easy thing to say to one other as a way of checking in on our attitudes and behaviors.
Another cliche' - easier said then done. It's easy to say "don't be a jerk" or "Love God and love your neighbor, " but what does it mean to live those words out every day?
The Pharisee's pose their question to Jesus during the last week of his life - so there is some urgency in these words for me.
I think perhaps Jesus is reminding us that we can not love God without loving what God loves. Our Sunday school curriculum offers this from Timothy A. Beach-Verhey from Theological Perspectives, "While the scribes and the Pharisees used the law to place severe limits on those whom they were obliged to recognize as their neighbor, Jesus joins these texts in order to smash all the limits and boundaries of neighborliness. Put simply, Jesus loves his enemies and loves as God loves.
So, here is what I am asking myself this week:
How am I orientating my love toward God?
Where and how am I recognizing and experiencing God's love and presence?
Am I living what I say or am I living what I mean?
How am I loving my neighbor?
Am I being a jerk?