CORONAVIRUS AND THE GREAT COMMANDMENT

A teacher of the law asked Jesus ‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’ Jesus replied with not just one commandment, but two:

‘“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 neighbour as yourself.” All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’ (Matthew 22:34 – 40)

There is in the Bible an essential connection and synergy between our relationship with God and our responsibility towards our neighbour.

Micah wrote of it:

‘He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God’ (Micah 6:8).

Jesus stressed it:

‘If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching ... My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you’ (John 14:23; 15:12).

John pointed out that this love God/love your neighbour synergy is non-negotiable:

‘Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light ... But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness ...’ (1John 2:9-11).

‘This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another... We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death’ (1John 3:11-14).

‘And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us’ (1John 3:23).

‘Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love (1John 4:7,8).

In the context of COVID-19, with increasing regulations regarding self-isolation and social distancing, what does it mean to love another?

It means that, where our government sets boundaries for the well-being of our community, including us and our loved ones, we will live strictly within those boundaries. We will recognize that the government is God’s agent for the preservation of our lives.

It means that we will be on the lookout for our vulnerable neighbours and relatives, doing such practical things for them as their shopping, phoning them regularly, being generous if they have lost their job, and so on.

It means that we will maintain contact with our fellow believers by phone, text messages, online social networking, and face-to-face phone or internet meeting tools as Google Hangouts, Zoom or Skype. We will meet together via these technologies to encourage each other, pray with each other, share the Word of God with each other.

May I encourage you to be proactive. Stay connected. Support and encourage each other. And when it all ends we will be stronger in our faith and our relationships than we were at the beginning.

©Rosemary Bardsley 2020