Wandering the savage garden…

The greatest commandment

I was thinking about what Jesus said the greatest commandment was: to love the Lord your God with everything you are… and what does that mean?

Here’s the text from which it’s drawn:

34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

(Matthew 22:34-39 ESV)

Here, Jesus is referring to Deuteronomy 6:5:

5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

(Deuteronomy 6:5 ESV)

Now, this is simple text, right? It has some axiomatic concepts that are pretty obvious:

  1. The Lord exists. (Otherwise, what is to be loved?)
  2. You exist. (Otherwise, what is performing the act of dedication?)
  3. The Lord is supreme. (Otherwise, this is not a “command,” but a… simple aphorism, I suppose.)
  4. You are to commit yourself wholly to the Lord.

There are some others that are also implied, but in my experience they’re rarely discussed.

The commandment is one of total dedication to the Lord. There’s nothing wrong with that; many, however, take it to mean that you subvert everything you are, in order to experience that dedication.

Yet… is that what God wants from us? To become mindless shells?

The sages – and the second greatest commandment – say “no.”

We are to “love our neighbors as we love ourselves,” paraphrased. The key phrase, the empowering phrase, is “… as we love ourselves.” How can we love others if we subjugate who we are? How can we love God if we are not as He made us to be?

To be a certain way – regardless of what that “way” might be – we must first be.

We are to love; we are to respect ourselves such that we can respect others; we must own who we are, or else the offering to God (of our souls, minds, and strength, in the “greatest commandment”) is worthless.

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