Thursday, June 23, 2022


"Love one another as I have loved you!" 
John 13:34

Toronto, Canada
October 26, 2014
Rev. Ronald Knott

You shall love God with all your heart, all your soul,
all your mind and your neighbor as yourself. The
whole law depends on these.
Matthew 22:34-40 

We have been reading about the battle between Jesus and the religious teachers of his day. Since Jesus was very popular among the ordinary people on the streets, these religious leaders could not attack him directly so they resorted to trying to trap him in his speech so that they could have something to accuse him of should there be a heresy or sedition trial.

Last week, they thought that they had Jesus cornered. First, they schmoozed him with false flattery to get him to open up. “Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man and you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.” They then asked him whether it was lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not. They thought they had boxed in with a clever “damned if you do and damned if you don’t” dilemma. If he said “yes it is lawful” he would offend and lose his followers who hated Caesar and his taxes, but if he said “no it is not lawful” then the Roman government would come after him for sedition.   Jesus outsmarted their trickery by answering, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s!”  

Today they are back for another try. The trick question today is “what is the greatest commandment?” They knew that scripture scholars could not agree on this so they thought they could discredit him with somebody no matter what answer he gave. Again, Jesus outsmarted them by placing the love of God and love of neighboring on the same plane - making them equal - rather than prioritizing them as they requested.     

Love God with all my heart, soul mind and strength? Love my neighbor as myself? You mean I am supposed to make God and others the most important considerations in my life, even more than myself? Most of us, to be honest, can’t say that God is that important to us, much less those around us!

I would love to be able to say that God is always at the center my life, and that I love all people all the time but sadly I quite often put myself and other things ahead of God and the needs of others. Some days I do better than others but, thankfully, God is very patient with me and loves me anyway.  I have always taken comfort in knowing that my best is good enough for God.

Today, I want to say a few more words about taking these two commandments seriously. None of us will ever measure up completely to the Great Commandment – the one that summarizes all other commandments - but this is the brass ring for which we all reach. To take God seriously, to seek to love him and others with all we have, there are things we must do. 

1.     We must want what God wants. To be able to even want what God wants, means we have to understand the Scriptures, listen to the Spirit within us and stay consciously connected to God through prayer.

2.     We must remember who we are. We are holy. We are holy, not because of what we have done, but because we are “created in the image and likeness of God” and, through our baptism, we are adopted children of God. We must accept our holiness, neither exaggerating who we are nor denying who we really are!

3.     We must want to live by the same values Jesus lived by: having a loving kindness toward all, especially the most weak and vulnerable, even our enemies; striving to do God’s will no matter the consequences; using Jesus’ own life as a pattern for our own.

4.     We must be in command of ourselves, have a handle on our addictions and our passions, so that we can go in the way that God wants us to go. We must constantly question our own motives, making sure that we not only do the right thing, but also do it for the right reason.

5.     We must never give into hopelessness, whether it is about the future or about other people because we know that the war against evil has been already been won, even though we may continue to lose many painful battles. God’s kingdom will come and nothing we do, not even the gates of hell, can stop it.

6.     Regardless of our failures, loving God and each other with our whole heart, soul, and mind is something we should strive for, even though it is something we will never accomplish completely. God wants a relationship with us, even if it is rocky and imperfect. 

Today, we are challenged to get serious about God, not in some loud, noisy and superficial way, but in a long haul and to the core-of-one’s-being kind of way. Loving God and one’s neighbors with all our hearts, souls and minds does not translate into noisy religious fanaticism, but into a subtle way of living that draws people attention away from ourselves and places it on God and those around us. That is the spirit of these two commandments and that is what the spirit of the whole law is all about!   How can we possible do all this? With God’s help! Let us now go to this table to be fed and strengthened on the Body and Blood of Christ! With God’s help all things are possible!




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