The Great Commandment

The gospel writers Matthew and Luke both recorded Jesus affirming the greatest commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, all of your soul, and all of your strength and love your neighbor as yourself.”

There’s a big but introduced into the context in Luke’s account (Luke 10:25-37).  There, Jesus is in conversation with an expert in the law.  The expert rightly states the greatest commandment–in other words, this is what God most desires–and Jesus compliments the man’s conclusion, “You have answered correctly.”  Jesus takes it a step further, saying, “Do this and you will live.”  We could spend a fair amount of consideration on that phrase, though I’ll spare you here in order to get to the big but.  Verse 20 reads:

BUT he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

Ponder that in context.  Love God with all that you are AND love your neighbor as you love yourself.  Sure, BUT…

I’m convinced that we followers of Jesus specialize in rationalizing away the most simple truths.  Does loving God really mean I have to…? Does loving my neighbor really mean…?  I go to church on Sundays, certainly that demonstrates I love God, no?  I give a tax deductible gift to the local soup kitchen every December that demonstrates I love my neighbors, no?

I don’t know, is it just me, or does it seem we followers of Jesus, in our American church culture, tend often to meet the Great Commandment and the Great Commission by showing our buts (with one ‘t’)?