Hate them or love them, both spoken and unspoken, rules govern every area of our lives don’t they?
What speed to drive at. Where to park the car. Where not to park the car as (after 37 years of driving) I recently received my first parking ticket…still fuming at my stupidity and hence the “sweary” emoji!
Rules in terms of the still on-going Covid pandemic. Rules (in my opinion) that tried to keep the majority safe but man, were they at times confusing and some might say draconian.
Rules that govern sport. Rules that mean you cannot avoid the tax man, even in death. Rules that govern how organisations work or do not work. Un-spoken rules that you only pick up upon if you are on the inside.
Rules. Commandments you might say. Bringing structure and safety out of potential chaos it could be said but equally rules that bring sanction when knowingly or unknowingly “broken”.
Here’s Christ’s response to someone asking Him what He considered the most important rule or commandment in terms of what a life well lived to God might look like…
The Gospel reading.
28 One of the religion scholars came up. Hearing the lively exchanges of question and answer and seeing how sharp Jesus was in his answers, he put in his question: “Which is most important of all the commandments?”
29-31 Jesus said, “The first in importance is, ‘Listen, Israel: The Lord your God is one; so love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.’ And here is the second: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ There is no other commandment that ranks with these.”
32-33 The religion scholar said, “A wonderful answer, Teacher! So clear-cut and accurate—that God is one and there is no other. And loving him with all passion and intelligence and energy, and loving others as well as you love yourself. Why, that’s better than all offerings and sacrifices put together!”
34 When Jesus realized how insightful he was, he said, “You’re almost there, right on the border of God’s kingdom.”
After that, no one else dared ask a question.
For the observant Jew, there were (according to http://www.patrickcomerford.com) up to 613 laws or commandments that he or she had to abide by in terms of being a faithful Jew. Laws that covered what could be done, what could not be done across all areas of life , including worship.
And when the Scribe (whose role was to ensure the faithful copying and teaching of the Hebrew Bible from generation to generation) asked Christ this leading question…“Which is most important of all the commandments?”, there was a lot, potentially, Christ could have got tripped up on.
And Christ it seems to me lovingly replies that, it’s not following the 10 commandments or indeed the 613 rules that govern life that matters but rather what matters, what counts is more of, well, an attitude.
An attitude…that focusses on Love.
A way of life based on the experience of Love and that puts the need for a tick box approach to life, well, in the shade that the light of Love brings.
Not that rules are unimportant. Far from it.
But Christ in His reply makes deeply personal our need to respond daily to His challenge
To love with all we have (and don’t have) God the Creator.
To find ways to have love for others.
Because we are beginning to love ourselves and learning to understand ourselves in that we have received, in the Messiah; Love.