An elderly minister once said, “One’s love for God cannot exceed the love that one has for the one they love the least.” He said this as a response to the verse in I John chapter 4, which says, “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.”
Now, I don’t know if this minister is correct in his assertion that we cannot love God more than the least of our love for our neighbor. But it’s a point that deserves careful attention and a re-examination of our willingness and desire to love others as God has loved us (John 13:34 & 15:12).
I know that there is a difference of opinion on what it means to love one’s neighbor. For some, that may mean teaching the neighbor about Jesus. For others, it may mean helping out with food and clothing. Still others may believe that loving one’s neighbor means to encourage them to pull themselves up by their bootstraps (so to speak) and become productive members of society.
I’m not convinced that Jesus left us hanging in terms of what it means to love one’s neighbor. I think he provided good counsel on the matter with the story of the Good Samaritan. After all, Jesus told that story in response to the question, “Who is my neighbor?” And that question was prompted by Jesus’ statement that loving God and loving one’s neighbor as oneself was the path to eternal life. So the story of the Good Samaritan is crucial, I believe, to the understanding of what it means to love one’s neighbor.
This fall, one of the foci of our teaching at RiverWalk will be the relationships we have with each other, and with God. We hope to explore that in some depth, and examine times when Jesus and others tell us something relational by referring to “one-another”. There are many passages that talk of how we deal with one-another. “Love one-another.” “Accept one-another.” “Teach and admonish one-another.” “Encourage one-another.” “Forgive one-another.” The list goes on and on.
We could study other subjects this year. But we believe that right now, at this time, God is leading us to not only look at relationships, but work with Him as He continues to mold and shape us into people fit for His kingdom. We welcome your participation and your engagement in this journey.