Is “Love Thy Neighbor” simply Law, A Commandment, Or it is something more?
Discussion Thought of the Day
‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Luke 10:27b (NLT)
9 “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. John 15:9 (NLT)
16 We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. 17 And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. 1 John 4:16-17 (NLT)
21 When I am with the Gentiles who do not follow the Jewish law, I too live apart from that law so I can bring them to Christ. But I do not ignore the law of God; I obey the law of Christ. 1 Corinthians 9:21 (NLT)
In a recent blog, I made mention that loving our neighbor is not just law, it is always gospel. The contention was over evangelism, when I said doing such was an act of love, that love compels us to work for reconciliation. But what compels us is not the law, but the love that is the effect of the gospel. And to not love our neighbor, by sharing the greatest treasure we have, the love and mercy of God, is sin.
SO I was asked to clarify how “love thy neighbor” isn’t just law, but the purest of Gospel. Because of that, we have a blog about it.
The simple truth is we aren’t capable of loving each other as God commands, in the midst of our sin. Therefore, a directive to love our neighbor is the law, and we can be judged by it. For most Lutherans (who the discussion seems to be between) this is normal use of the law, it guides our actions in community, and it reveals our need for God. It also shows how we should live, (what it called the third use of the Law)
But it is more than just a command, it is a commission, a way of life God prepared those of us in Christ to walk in, (see Eph. 2 10. ) It is who we are in Christ, formed by Him, transformed by the Holy Spirit. It is the effect of our reconciliation, our redemption and sanctification, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
It isn’t about living within the confines of the law, the don’t touch, don’t do, type of law. It is more than the third use of the law – because it isn’t about obeying, it is about being in Christ, about the Holy Spirit’s work. If it is the only law, it is about us. But loving God and loving our neighbor is more than that.
It is the freedom of living and abiding in God’s love. That is where the commission to love comes from. It is the encouragement to live within the reality of your salvation, As we look to Christ, as the Spirit transforms us, it is indicative of who we become, of who we are in Christ.
If loving our neighbor is only law, it is not an indicative state, it is not that which the Father commissions and makes happen as we are raised with Christ. We are no longer Christ’s masterpiece, the work that He is glorified and raised above all others for accomplishing.
But love is not just law. It is life, in communion with God and all of His people, all of His creation. It is indicative of the eternal life promised and given to us, as the Spirit quickens and transforms us.