honeybees and honey comb

A New Command

André Trocmé

Posted Thursday, August 02, 2012

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Jesus sums up in two sentences the entire Mosaic Law and the Prophets, that is, the duty of holiness and of prophetic mission in the world: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength; and love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these" (Mark 12:30–31). Although these two commands are found in the Old Testament, what is original in Jesus' teaching is that he brings them together. They become a singular command. Jesus is saying that we cannot love God if we do not love our brother; God will not forgive us if we do not forgive our brother (Matt. 6:14–15). In short, we shall be judged as we judge others.

Why is Jesus so rigid on this point? Because anyone who sets limits toward loving his neighbor raises a wall between himself and the God whose love knows no limits. God's kingdom seeks to overcome barriers. This is why Jesus is extraordinarily indulgent toward sinners. He displays unbounded love and kindness toward them; he never ceases to believe in the possibility of their turning from their sin. But he is uncompromising with hypocrites, that is, with the spiritually proud who have no love for their brothers and sisters.

Jesus' new commandment demands that we translate the rulership of God into everyday language through our bodies: Love your neighbor, serve him, heal him, even if this means breaking traditions or laws. Give in to him rather than offend him and turn him away from God. Whatever you do, don't make yourself an obstacle on his way to God. One's neighbor's physical well-being is as important as his spiritual life; the healing of the body and the healing of the soul are joined in a single operation. Christ's revolution is total, or it is nothing.

The immediacy and simplicity of this new commandment liberate us from fears, from plans, from complicated orders issued by the state, whether in peacetime or in wartime, and from all that divides people from one another. Freed from all casuistry, one can joyfully serve others as well as refuse with the same joy any attempt on humanity's existence. We no longer need to be impressed by great principles quoted to us, or with great historical moments that call for bloodshed. It is so simple. Any endeavor to serve the needs of others, especially those that benefit children, the persecuted, prisoners, the exploited, the aged, the infirm, will advance God's kingdom, even if only minutely.

The Christian objector to war or military service is thus not a purist who, on the day he receives orders to kill his neighbor, wakes from his dream to say no. He is a servant with experienced hands, who is so busy helping his neighbor that to interrupt his activity to undertake the task of killing is unthinkable to him.

Perhaps it is true that certain violent remedies employed against tyrants have put an end to certain forms of evil, but they have not eliminated evil. Evil itself will take root elsewhere, as we have seen through history. The fertilizer that stimulates its growth is yesterday's violence. Even "just wars" and "legitimate defense" bring vengeance in their train. Fresh crimes invariably ensue...

The state – the way of power – can only work from the past to anticipate the future and determine its course. As long as the church abandons its calling, the state will know nothing of repentance. But the church in its midst does know repentance, and it knows only that, and it bears witness to that before the state, for the healing of the nations. If Christ's followers do not surpass the state in justice, they do not belong to God's kingdom; they leave the world to fend for itself in the agony of its abandonment.

Meanwhile Jesus, even if deserted by his church, climbs the road to Calvary, continuing to seek and to save those that are lost.

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Comments

Thank you for these deep and encouraging words. I think that is probably the greatest trick that the devil tries to put on people: that we only need to have a relationship with God and who cares about anyone else around us! That is so completely the opposite of God's love, and as this excerpt mentions, that is why Jesus was so rigid on that point. I agree that it would have to be because of God's limitless love for all, so if we harbor judgment or hate on others it divides us from God's all forgiving, all encompassing, and unconditional love. In my own life, I struggle with harboring resentment to another person who has hurt some children pretty badly. It is a real inner struggle for me to find forgiveness and true love for that person and stop judging them. I really believe that unless I can come back to the realization that God loved me long before I ever made a move towards wanting a relationship with Him, that I will always be judged in the way I judge others. So I must realize how much I have to be forgiven for in my own life and how repentant I need to be myself so I stop judging anyone - no matter what. Thank you for these words that are helping me to see how important that really is!!!

Wonderful. I look forward to find total reliance on the Lord in finding the answers that plague my relationship with him ,i.e being not worthy for the gift I was given in returning to the church and reconciliation. How I yearn for complete love eternally with Our Merciful Savior and complete trust that the intense suffering left from 8 major surgeries has not been in vain but united with the cross willingly and hopefully accepted in the way St Paul spoke of in 2 Cor 7-10. Thank you.

Really nice article. I am blessed by reading it.

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength; and love your neighbor as yourself. sounds so simple yet it's been my experience that it is the most difficult thing to do. One most love oneself and Jesus before you can take the position of loving others. When Mother Teresa said "when I look into the eyes of the sick and the destitute, I see the eyes of Jesus" that gave me an immediate understanding of the fact you MUST love Jesus first and want to serve him and when you know how he wants you to live your life of serving others, serving others is easy because you are serving Him AND the soul you're helping. So how do we reach this perfection, this place we know we have to be to serve others? Jesus was the only perfect soul who walked this earth but he came from God as His Son. We are disadvantaged for being human. We have to be re-born first and be filled with the Holy Spirit before we can pursue helping others. Every day evil is waiting for opportunities to take you mind off God and to only think of yourself. All of us have thoughts from time to time that are maybe not all good or pure and we all make decisions of NOT saying or doing something to help others. It's not easy to live a life of always thinking and doing the right thing. I believe the key to salvation is to read scripture, to pray constantly, to keep refreshing our minds with how Jesus wants us to live and then and only then you will find salvation and along the way help souls and preach the love of God through your example.

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