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  • James Stegall

Loving Our Neighbor: The Golden Rule

As Christians, we are called first and foremost to be a people who genuinely love God and other people. In one of his last days before being arrested and crucified, while enduring a time of heavy scrutiny and questioning by the religious leaders of Israel, Jesus shared that the two highest priority commandments of Scripture were to love the Lord with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:28-31). During this past Sunday’s Zoom service, we discussed a verse in the Sermon on the Mount that teaches the same message: “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12)

Yes, this is The Golden Rule. There may not be a more well-known verse in the Bible. I call learning it as a child, a full decade before I ever laid eyes on the inside of a Bible. This verse (the first part, specifically) has become so ubiquitous that people from all walks of life all over the world know it and call it to mind as they live their lives. My first question when thinking of this is, “If the world is so familiar with this verse, even if they don’t know it as one, why does it seem that so few people live it out?” With crime rates rising in our cities and towns and vitriol and vilification being the common theme of our news, political climate, and social sites, what can we do? In all eras of history, no matter how dark, we are called to be ambassadors of the Kingdom of Light (2 Corinthians 5:20).

As bearers of the love of God in this world, we are called to completely surrender our lives to God, then carry that light to those who wander in darkness. We’re ambassadors of the Kingdom of Heaven amongst the kingdoms of this world. What better way to do that than to practically walk out the two most important commandments in Scripture? Can it be that simple, that practical? Could the most important contribution we have in our world be to simply love the ones around us as we love ourselves, doing unto them as we’d desire them to do unto us? I believe so, yes.

More than Christian conferences, mega-churches, politicians, and TV pastors, I believe that simple, sincere love at the ground level will be what changes the world. When we manifest this type of neighborly love (neighbors being all those around us, not just our street neighbors), we will see things change, we will see love win over hate, and we will see light dispel darkness.

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