19th June 2019

Lest We Miss It

“You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbour as yourself: I am the Lord.”
Leviticus 19:18 (ESV UK)

Love is a squishy-squashy fluid word. Its definition has elastic boundaries and people have a habit of misusing it, so it can be taken to mean a wide variety of thoughts, nice feelings, sentiments and actions.

But isn’t it an all-encompassing Christian virtue and the fundamental nature of God? God says he is love. That’s his whole nature, his whole being summed up. If it is so fundamental, you would have thought that we’d learn about it right at the beginning of the Bible as God first spoke to Adam and Eve. However, if you started on a reading programme beginning in Genesis, you won’t find it clearly defined. People who embark on reading the Bible from Genesis through to Revelation sometimes get to Leviticus and give up. The biblical story has ground to a halt and the reader is faced with wading through a chapter of laws and regulations. Those laws are laid out there because the first four books of the Bible were written for the Israelites, a people who not long before had been slaves. They had been systematically overworked and subjected to attempted genocide by their Egyptian masters. They had come from a background of abuse, and these laws were given to them to set out simply the way to express love. And there buried in the middle of them for the first time we find a clear statement of principle: love your neighbour as yourself.

This verse was picked up by Jesus when he was challenged by a lawyer trying to trip him up: Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law? he asks. Jesus replies by first quoting Deuteronomy 6:5: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Then he says, “This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:35-40). He’s picked up that little sentence buried in the apparently unexciting book of Leviticus as being an underlying fundamental basis for love, and given us a clear, yet challenging guide within which we have the freedom to express our love to each other.

God of love, our thanks and praise to you that you have not left us bereft of knowledge and guidance to love one another. Jesus has shown us the way and has given us the mind and power to enable us to do so.

Study by Hilary Buck

About the Author:
Hilary Buck pastors Grace Communion in Lewes.
Like us on www.facebook.com/GCLewes

Local Congregation:
Grace Communion – Lewes
The House of Friendship
208 High Street

Meeting Time:
Sunday 11:00am

Local Congregational Contact:
Hilary Buck
Email: hilaryjbuck@gmail.com

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