Summary: Jesus tells us that we need to love others.
Back in 1987 I was enrolled at Ohio Christian University, and attending Community United Methodist Church in Circleville. The pastor at that time was Rev. Lovell. He told a story in one of his sermons that has stayed with me all these years.
There was a child physiologist that was having some work done around his home. One Saturday he had a new cement drive way put in. He watched the men work as they poured and leveled, and then floated the drive. It was a thing of beauty. After the men left, he went inside to get a cup of something to drink. I am sure it was coffee. As he was enjoying his java, his wife came in and shouted come quick. He followed her into the front room. Through his picture window he could see the neighborhood kids where playing in the cement, writing there names with small twigs, putting there hand prints in the harding surface, one was even stepping into the semi-solid.
He ran to the door and began to scream at them, his wife hot on his tail. "Don't lose your temper dear," she said, "remember you love children."
He shot back, "It is easier to love children in the abstract, that in the concert."
I know, BOOO, but I think the reason that little story stayed with me is because the statement is true, it is easier to love in the abstract that in the concrete. It is a piece of cake to say you love someone who is vague, and not real. But it is something different when a person is stand there, right in front of you, needing love. As long as it stays abstract it is a breeze, but let it be a concert person, well that is a different story.
I know for me, it is hard to love some people. I have met people who test the limits of my love. Maybe you have also. The person you work with who just seems to be hateful all the time. How about that neighbor you have tried to make friends with but have been given the cold shoulder. Maybe it is that person at school who never has a nice thing to say, and bullies everyone to get their way. Do you have a family member you see manulating others to get their own way. People you know are using the system to get free stuff, and you have to work for everything you get. It can be hard to love some people. Amen!
Did you know Jesus deal with that very issue, look at Matthew 22:34-40 and you will discover what Jesus had to say about love.
Notice what is happening in this story. The Sadducees were silenced by Jesus answers. They had come to him try and trick him, to beguile him, to deceive him. But Jesus was to smart for them. He turned it around on them. He showed how they were purposely misinterpreting the Bible. After that failure by the Sadducees, the Pharisees take their turn. The Sadducees hated the Pharisees and the Pharisees detested the Sadducees. If would look like the Republicans and Democrats having joint convention to stop someone else. You say, "that would never happen." That is how the people of Jesus day felt about the Sadducees and the Pharisees. But they did come together, which proves the old saying, "The enemy of my enemy is my friend."
The Pharisees send a Lawyer to ask Jesus a question, to set him up. He asked, "What is the greatest commandment?" Doesn't sound too hard does it, not till you realize there were 613 commandments of the Torah (365 negative and 248 positive.) No one was agreed on which one was the greatest, which one of the 613 is above all the others. Which one was head and shoulders above the other 612. This was trap. No matter which one he chose, it was wrong in the opinion of one of the teachers of the law. You see what happening. They felt Jesus was in a no win situation. Whatever answer he gave, they would use it to turn to the people against him.
So what does Jesus do, He quoted part of the Shema, a prayer prayed by Jews twice a day. This Lawyer had just quoted it in his prayers that morning, he would pray it again that evening. Jesus was saying, "by your praying it every day, you must agree this was the greatest of all commandments. If it were not the greatest, why would you pray it yourself every day, not once but twice a day." Jesus implies, The lawyer already knows the answer to his question, and has known it since he was a child.
So what is the greatest commandment, we say Sunday, A Great Commitment to the Great Commission and the Great Commandment will grow great people, and a great Church.