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HomeSpiritual Growth“’Love your neighbor' is the Idol of our Age.”

“’Love your neighbor’ is the Idol of our Age.”

I regularly publish brief “Quick Quotes”, which are short phrases that hopefully elicit thoughtful reflection. Recently, I posted one that read, 

“Sadly, many skip Salvation “love God” and jump right to a false Sanctification “love thy neighbor”. 

Of course, this is a direct reference to Luke 10:27, Mark 12:31, and Matthew 22:39, among other verses. It is a fundamental Biblical concept, in my view, for two reasons….

First, Jesus makes the point that these two commandments define all of Scripture.

Matthew 22:37-39 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Second, there is an order to God’s commandment to love, which is often overlooked. 

The Meaning

In today’s culture, there is a trend toward emphasizing “love thy neighbor” in the here and now, and assuming by doing that, one is also demonstrating a “love of God” for those who see that as having value. Respectful to those who practice this theology, I would offer a strong counterpoint. 

Eternal Education

I think when we get to the other side of the grave, we will be amazed at many things, not the least will be the incredible intricacies and interconnections to be found in the Bible. Much of what challenges us today regarding God’s nature and His actions (in the Old Testament for example), so easily condemned by those without faith and/or trust in the inerrancy of Scripture, will be cleared up.

Since loving God and our fellow man is so integral to all of God’s commands, I expect we will see a much clearer understanding of what God intended in these words. There seems to be an order to these two commandments that is missed by many. The order is to love God first and then, under the banner of that love, to love our neighbors (which is all of mankind). It was with that order in mind… and the reality that a Biblical Christian worldview continues to deteriorate… that I published that Quick Quote of…

“Sadly, many skip Salvation “love God” and jump right to a false Sanctification “love thy neighbor”.

Salvation requires loving God, first

God desires a relationship with each of us. He cares for mankind and desires the best for us. However, He is also a righteous God who, as Creator of the universe, expects to be honored and respected. Mankind is made up of sinners (Romans 3:23) and, from that position, we do not have the capacity to love God as we need to (Romans 6:23). So, He provided a solution through the sinless life of His son and Christ’s death on the cross for our sins (Romans 5:8). To accept the gift of Salvation one needs to acknowledge the resurrection of Christ and that God is our Savior and our Lord (Romans 10:9). That sincere acceptance comes through God’s grace and our faith in what Christ did for us. 

Once we accept God (and Christ) as our Savior and Lord, we are able to love God as He asks us to (the first part of the Quick Quote above). However, in our post-Christian nation, many reject the concept of loving God. Referencing, “Sadly many skip Salvation”. 

Instead, the focus is on a “jump right to a false Sanctification”. I use the word “false” because without faith in Christ to be our Lord and Savior, those who think they are following God’s command are Scripturally incorrect. They have skipped the personal relationship with a loving God, often because they disagree with His other principles found in Scripture, or reject the Bible entirely. 

They believe one can have a relationship with God without accepting the truth of what His son did for us and that we must come under God’s authority in order to have a relationship with Him. 

Sanctification is a lifelong process of drawing closer and closer to God as we learn from the Bible, prayer, and fellowship with other Biblical Christians. So, if we reject God as our Lord, (even if one still thinks of Jesus as their Savior), that is a false theology and therefore a false Salvation and subsequent Sanctification. 

There is a clear order to “loving God” AND THEN “loving thy neighbor”. To love our neighbor as God commands us to do, one must FIRST accept what Christ did for us on the cross (i.e. as our Savior) AND then accept God as our master (i.e. as our Lord). Then, and only then, can we “love our neighbor” through Christ, as much of Scripture calls us to do.

A Reader’s Comment

This Quick Quote above elicited a response from a long-time reader whom I respect very highly. I was tempted to simply add a new Quick Quote to my published list, recognizing her authorship. However, given the quote, just publishing it without comment could result in a dangerous theological misunderstanding. Her (Lila) response was…

“Love your neighbor” is the idol of our age.”

Why did she say that? How could loving mankind be an idol today?

Her point, an excellent one, was that many “Christians” have either jumped over “love God” in an attempt to conform to societal norms which run counter to Scripture or have simply lost their first love, God. 

Revelation 2:4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love.

Jumping to “Loving our neighbor” has replaced loving God through following His principles, reading His word, praying to Him, fellowshipping with other believers, and holding each other accountable. 

Conclusion

Many in this country, regardless of their religious affiliation, care for the downtrodden. We are a nation of good Samaritans, though sadly, I think we have lost some of that neighborly love out of fear of violence and retribution, just for trying to do good. 

However, the point of this post, and the Scriptures in general, is that to be saved, to spend eternity in Heaven with God, one cannot just be a “good person”. The Lord wants us to be more than that. He first wants our love, allegiance, and a personal relationship with Him. There is nothing wrong, and everything right, with “loving thy neighbor”. However, if we miss “loving God” first and foremost, we miss out on the rest of what God has to offer His children. 


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