– C.I. Ezike-Dennis
Love is the principal characteristic of the New Creation. But have you wondered why we are never specifically told to “love the Lord” anywhere in the New Testament? “Mmh blasphemy, Brother C.I.” No, you look it up yourself, a number of scriptures allude to it, but never specifically commands it. Now, let’s be clear, the New Testament came into force after the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. So, that would mean you have to begin your search from the book of Acts. Yes, except for the passages in the Gospels, nowhere in Acts or the Epistles are we commanded to love God.
I had wondered about this, especially when, in His encounter with the lawyer in Matthew 22:35, Jesus had indicated that “to love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind,” was the first and great commandment. He then added that, “the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
But before we go on, notice that Jesus calls this Love-Law the “first and great commandment”. He also says, it is the summation of the whole law and the prophets.
My problem began when I noticed that everywhere else this passage was quoted or made reference to in the Epistles, the first part of it, dealing with loving “the Lord your God”, was left off. Let’s consider some of the passages:
Romans 13 (KJV)
8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Notice that this first passage we are considering says the whole law is “briefly comprehended in this”, i.e. reiterating what Jesus says that this was the sum total of the law and prophets. But it left out the first part about loving the Lord.
Galatians 5 (KJV)
14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Notice this verse also leaves out any reference to loving the Lord.
James 2 (KJV)
8 If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:
James calls this “the Royal Law”, meaning it is the supreme law, or as Jesus calls it, “the first and great commandment”. But notice yet again that it left out the first part of it, dealing with loving the Lord.
I wondered about this until I read:
1 John 4
20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?
21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.
Then it occurred to me that God wants us to find in others the unique opportunity to demonstrate our love for Him.
1 John 5
1 …and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him.
Now, this was eye opening for me. The suicide bomber who blew himself up along with innocent others in the name of God never knew this. Neither does the brother who, seething with anger, is bigoted against those of other tribes, cultures and races.
You see, it is pretty convenient to claim that we love an invisible God, except that He says to prove it in our love for those visibly nearby us, or neighbours to us. In His response to the lawyer’s self-justifying question, Jesus illustrated His answer with the story of “the good Samaritan”, and we shall look at that next.