Lessons Learning…Is Love the Greatest of These?

1 Corinthians 13:11-13

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

When I was a child, I was bullied. When I was a teenager, I was bullied.  I was bullied in public school, as a student, and sadly, as a teacher.  Today, I am still bullied.  The reasons for the bullying have changed over the years, but the result remains the same – a hurting soul.  I was treated as an outcast because I was different. How was I different?  Does it matter? No.  What matters is I was treated as an outsider and couldn’t find a group that accepted me for me being me.  Even those in surprisingly close circles treated me differently than what I witnessed in other circles.  That hurt.  Still does.   The reasons I was bullied are surprisingly similar to what we hear today, but what I received as a child and as a teen was nothing compared to the reality of the world today.  Children, young and old, have taken bullying to a whole new level.

As I am sure you’ve heard, recent news has been heartbreaking. Children, youth, and adults are killing themselves because they couldn’t take it anymore.  They couldn’t take the physical and emotional abuse repeatedly endured for so long.  The only way they felt their souls could be free from the pain was to take their own lives.  How could they do such a horrific thing? How could they commit suicide?  Was there no other way out?

Is that the greatest of these – love?

What breaks my heart more is the fact that they tried.  When the authorities delved into the investigation, they found out that the victims DID try to find a way out.  They reached out to “friends” and student representatives. They reached out to teachers, principals, and college authorities and they were ignored – or the harassment got worse.  Sadly though, I totally understand.  I completely understand why someone would give up.  When you reach out to those who are supposed to support and protect you and nothing is done, who wouldn’t give up? When you reach out to ask for help and nobody listens and nobody helps, what else is left to do?  I understand why they gave up on society and ultimately themselves…everybody else did.

Is that the greatest of these – love?

I think if there is anything that breaks my heart just a little bit more is how other “Christians” and “ministers” are bullying those who are just trying to love and be loved, in a society that can’t understand.  You would think that Christians and ministers would be the very groups to express their love and support to those who need people to stand with them in that very love.  Sadly, this is not the case.  Certain religious groups, churches and their leaders encourage the bullying, ostracizing, hatred and complete rejection of gays, lesbians, bi-sexual, and transgendered individuals. In fact, many have done the bullying themselves….and have done it all in the name of God.

Is that the greatest of these – love?

For most of those groups, they claim that they take the bible, in literal form – and that homosexuality is an abomination, as is eating shellfish, lending with interest, touching pig’s skin, and working on the Sabbath.  Yet in the New Testament, Jesus Christ (of all people to listen to, you would think you would listen to Him) said these words about the greatest commandment:  “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” 38This is the greatest and first commandment. 39And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.”  What about those words?  In a society where these young people are killing themselves, when are we ALL going to take THOSE words literally?  When are we going to love our neighbors, with the same love that has been given to us?

NOTE: For those who are bullied and ostracized by “christian” groups and “ministers”, please know that not all of us are like that. They do not represent all ministers and all christians. Please know there are ministers out there who do care, who are supportive, who do love and who will stand with you.

I don’t know. As I continue to struggle with these thoughts and questions, one remains the most puzzling,

Is that the greatest of these now – love?

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2 Responses to Lessons Learning…Is Love the Greatest of These?

  1. Laura Martin says:

    I love your blogs, and particularly this one. If I might say, I believe you answered your own question “Is the greatest of these love?” in your previous blog. Let me quote you…

    “As she faced her own death, Teresa was courageous. Teresa found life. She found love. She found life in the compassion of a chaplain who loved her as Christ did. She found life in the scriptures she read every day. She found redemption and mercy; forgiveness and grace. Teresa found love for the sisters of Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women and became ministers for them. She found love for Lynn. She found love for herself and life in her heart again. She found love in her belief in Jesus Christ. ”

    If, by greatest, you mean “most abundant,” then possibly not. But if you mean “of highest value” then I would say, “of course.” It is what drove God to creation, the reason we exist, and the purpose for which He allows us to continue to be. I assume the reason Christ has not yet returned is that we are still learning what that means.

    For the record, I love you. I really do. I hope that the distance and busy-ness we have spoken of recently doesn’t interfere with your ability to accept that as true. I love your compassion. I love that you unashamedly speak out and stand up for those people who have a hard time hearing God’s message of love. And I hope that you do not esteem Lynn Litchfield without recognizing in yourself the very things you’ve praised in her.

    Thanks for your bloughts!

  2. Which is the most important?
    Jesus was asked twice, by two different men, the same basic question about which is the most important or greatest commandment in the Law. Here is how Jesus answered that question:

    “One of the teachers of the law… asked him [Jesus],
    ‘Of all the commandments, which is the most important?’

    “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “ is this: ‘Hear, of Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than THESE.” [Mark 12:28-31, Deuteronomy 6:4-5, Leviticus 19:18]

    …an expert in the law, tested him [Jesus] with this question: ‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’”

    Jesus replied: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these TWO commandments.” [Matthew 22:36-40, Deuteronomy 6:5, Leviticus 19:18]

    But in contrast with Jesus, Paul the Pharisee didn’t know the greatest, most important, first commandment according to Jesus. Paul made up his own rule. Paul wrote:
    “The entire law is summed up in a SINGLE command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” [Galatians 5:14, Leviticus 19:18]

    And again, Paul wrote:
    “He who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not covet, and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this ONE RULE: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” [Romans 13:8-10, Leviticus 19:18]

    Jesus said it’s TWO commandments, with the greatest, most important, first command to
    .1) first, love God with everything you’ve got, and
    .2) second, love people.
    Paul said no, it ONE commandment- to love people.

    This is very similar to The Beatles- “All you need is love. Love is all you need. Love, Love, Love.” (In other words, the second commandment, the love of man, without the love of God. Love as me, myself and I define love to be, and continuously redefined by sinful men.)

    In essence, it is also the same principle as what Eve did in the Garden of Eden, forgetting about the Tree of Life, which is the first tree in the middle of the Garden, and instead referring to the second tree as “the tree that is in the middle of the garden.” [Genesis 3:3 & 2:9 2:17, 3:24]

    Kind of like the Pharisees with Jesus, who were pushing the false idea that we can consider ONE commandment in the Law, alone in isolation, to be “the greatest commandment in the Law.”

    Or like today, false teachers in the Chrislam – Purpose Driven – Seeker Sensitive – Emergent – Liberal – Ecumenical – New Age – world church movement pushing the false idea that the ONE RULE is “Loving God and Neighbor together.”

    The Lord God Jesus the Jewish Messiah, Son of Yahweh the Most High God of Israel, said:
    “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these TWO commandments.”
    Not one. TWO.

    Sometimes, Paul was wrong. Jesus is always right. I’m following Jesus.

    Here are answers to 2 common objections:
    .a) What about the so-called “Golden Rule”?
    Jesus spoke the 3 chapters of the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5-7, including 7:12. Jesus didn’t make PART of this one verse out of context into “The Golden Rule” or “one rule.” Jesus did not use the term “Golden Rule,” it’s simply a tradition of men. The sentence begins with “So” in the NIV and Amplified Bibles, and “Therefore’ in the NASB and King James Bibles, which ties 7:12 to the previous sentences. So 7:12 cannot stand alone as One Commandment.

    .b) What about the so-called “Great Commission”?
    Jesus spoke the words recorded in Matthew 28:18-20, including “make disciples of all nations.” Jesus never used the term “Great Commission,” it’s simply a tradition of men. Yes I agree it’s a commandment given by Jesus, it’s not optional, and it applies to us today. We need to carry this out, with our own God-given abilities and talents, using the skills, and circumstances we have. But we don’t need to put words in the mouth of Jesus, we can let Jesus speak for himself, and we can listen to Him – and obey Him.

    Evangelism is part of the Second Commandment given by Jesus, to Love people. Evangelism is not the most important commandment, and it isn’t the entire Second Commandment. So if our priorities are “The Great Commission and the Great Commandment,” we have our priorities upside down and confused, and we are not listening to the voice of Jesus. Never mind what Paul said. Let’s listen to the voice of Jesus first, and get our priorities straight.

    The people who will protest most loudly against this truth are the modern “Pauls:” traveling evangelists, speakers, writers, abusive absentee mega-church pastors, Crusaders, and self-appointed “apostles” like Paul, who find it “profitable” to “be like Paul” rather than follow Jesus the Jewish Messiah.

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