Allow me to be Captain Obvious for a moment: the world is messed up. You may have noticed.
Seems like most of the mess revolves around people being divided. I don’t mean diverse. I mean divided. Ideologically divided. Racially divided. Ethnically divided. Sexually divided. Economically divided. Religiously divided. A bunch of us, on any side of any of these divides, no doubt, believe in some version of living which Jesus described as “loving your neighbor as yourself.” But you may have also noticed that the starker the divides become, the less lovable everyone seems, and the harder this is to accomplish in the real world.
I have a suspicion that there’s a fix, and it isn’t “becoming a moderate.” It isn’t finding the middle ground. It isn’t turning a blind eye or canceling or legislating or tolerating or even, initially, the return to earth of Jesus Christ (although that’s the final fix, and the sooner the better, I say. Even, pray).
I think the fix is loving God.
There’s this story in the Gospels about Jesus going to the Temple at Jerusalem and getting really angry at the commerce He sees there. Table-flipping and small-animal stampedes ensue. Often this account gets interpreted as a story about justice, and it is, but I don’t think the starting point for Jesus was loving His neighbor as Himself. I believe Jesus’ impulse to justice was His love for God His Father.
The reason I think that is that that’s how the Gospels describe it. Jesus had such a great, unsullied, unhindered, uncomplicated relationship of love with God His Father that that is what fueled and motivated His love for other humans and the rest of creation. The love Jesus and the Father have for each other was the starting point for creation’s coming into being in the first place, and for the continued love of God for the world ever since.
When Jesus said that the Greatest Commandment was to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind and all your strength,” He was inviting us into godlikeness. Loving God is the starting point. But even though He wasn’t asked for a runner-up commandment, He threw that one in, too–“Love your neighbor as yourself.” It’s an inevitable follow-on: the more we love the God who is love, the more we will know ourselves loved by that God, and the freer we will be to receive God’s love for the others around us, discovering that we love them, too.