Revisioning the Gospel
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
"In the New Testament there is internal evidence that parts of it have proceeded from an extraordinary man; and that other parts are of the fabric of very inferior minds. It is as easy to separate those parts, as to pick out diamonds from dunghills." (Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, January 24, 1814)
The most precious "diamond" found in Judeo-Christian Scripture is this:
One of the scribes [asked Jesus], “Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:28-31, NRSV)
These two commandments, together known as The Greatest Commandment, are drawn from the Torah (the first five books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy). The command to "love God" is found at Deuteronomy 6:4-5, and the command to "love your neighbor" is found at Leviticus 19:18. To Jesus, these two commandments are the essence of the entire Torah; they are the alpha and omega of the Law; they are the sole standard of faith.
The Greatest Commandment has nothing to do with what to believe, and everything to do with how to live and respond to brokenness in the world. It is not a theological statement attached to an imaginative cosmic mythology, but is an earthly ethos which penetrates into the reality of the here and now. And it is the very nexus of Jesus' vision of the "kingdom of God." How so? Because love is the means and the end. Love creates Oneness out of brokenness. It is Love realized. And that is the Gospel: that by the conscious and mindful embrace of Love (and God is Love) we can transform our lives and thereby create Oneness within ourselves, with one another, and with our living world. And this Oneness is the "kingdom."
But what about "sin"? What about the crucifixion? What about the resurrection? What about salvation? What about Jesus being the Messiah (Christ)? And what about all those other things like Jesus' divinity, and the Bible, and worship?
I will be discussing all these topics in an upcoming series of blog posts titled The Emergent Jesus Way. I will also be discussing what Love is, what "God" is, who our neighbor is, and how transformation in the Jesus Way happens. So stay tuned (and consider subscribing to my posts).