Jesus taught us to love one another. He also commanded us to continue in his love. He made it clear that the first commandment is to love God with all the heart, soul, mind, strength; and the second commandment is to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. The rest of the law hangs on these teachings.
Jesus didn’t say, “Understand your neighbor, or be concerned about your enemy, or be kind to a friend.” He said, “Love your neighbor - love your enemy.” Love is the answer to the perplexing problems that plague us.
Love may not solve all the world’s problems, but it will help us to find a way to solve them. In the synoptic gospels, Jesus never said, “God loves you.” But everywhere we see evidence of his love and care. He assumed, as he underlined the two great commandments, that God was lovable and loving. He pointed out evidence of this love and care. God clothes the grass of the fields — feeds the ravens. He causes the sun to shine on the good and evil, and the rain to fall on the just and unjust. A sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His knowledge. The very hairs of your head are numbered.
Jesus hurled his most stinging criticism toward the Pharisees, who were careful to keep the religious rules. “Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” The Pharisees may have been better churchmen than some stewards in the modern church. They gave generously to the church. They would never miss a service or a board meeting. Surely, they would have jumped at the opportunity to serve on some important commission, or to teach in the schools. They were like a well-dressed army who could march, but who didn’t know how to fight.
Love can make a mansion out of an humble shack, and it can transform a palace into a home. I remember a little tenant house in which we lived when I was a boy. It didn’t have electric lights — there was no carpet on the floor. You could look up and see the rafters. I also remember that when the shadows of night began to fall, I wanted to be home. I would rather have been there than any place in the world.
It is love that marches out into the cold night in search of the lost sheep. It is love that prays in the darkness of Gethsemane. It is love that staggers up Calvary and is crucified. When we learn to practice the first two commandments, then we will have peace — peace in the heart — peace in the world.