Jesus said: “’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 neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matt 22:36-40)
If loving our neighbor is, as Jesus said, the second greatest commandment, then it’s certainly vital for Christians to know how to obey it. And in order to obey the commandment, Christians need a biblical understanding of what loving our neighbor actually means.
Knowing how to love our neighbor seems like it should be a clear-cut concept, doesn’t it? For it’s true that after being pressed for answers by a self-seeking Pharisee, Jesus explained the commandment using the simple parable of the Good Samaritan, who, at his own expense, selflessly cared for a man in need (Luke 10:25-37). The Good Samaritan showed unmerited favor to a man whom others had passed off as unworthy of their love. The parable illustrates the way that loving our neighbor should mirror the nature of God’s grace to us; for it was while we were unworthy sinners that Christ died for us (Rom 5:8).
But despite the simple truth exemplified in the parable, the pure, powerful, and gospel-centered meaning of the second greatest commandment has become distorted in our worldly culture today. To love one’s neighbor has been twisted into something entirely different from the self-sacrificial love that Jesus demonstrated for us on the Cross. “Loving” others has been reduced to a flimsy paper-chain of feel-good human relationships that flutter and tear in the winds of emotion and circumstance—these relationships aren’t rooted in Godly love, but are tied together by a frail substitute.
from Truthbomb Apologetics
It has been awhile since my previous post but I have finished my notes for your review. I pray you find Dr. Keller’s wisdom as illuminating and helpful as I have while experiencing my own “furnace”.
Chapter Fourteen: Praying
In order to understand what the Bible says about suffering, one must come to grips with the book of Job. Rabbi Abraham Heschel famously stated, “God is not nice. God is not an uncle. God is an earthquake.” Philosopher Peter Kreeft says “Job is a mystery. A mystery satisfies something in us, but not our reason. The rationalist is repelled by Job…[but] something deeper in us is satisfied by Job, and is nourished…It puts iron in your blood.” Job conveys that the problem of suffering is both a philosophical and emotional problem. The traditional religious answer is that the sufferer must have done something wrong. Yet Job’s suffering is because of his goodness. The secular answer is that there is no good reason. A good God wouldn’t allow this, so either he doesn’t exist or is cruel. But Job tells us that both of these are wrong.
The book opens with Satan in heaven accusing Job before God. This raises a question, what is Satan doing in heaven? Wasn’t he cast out? We must remember that the Bible is quite selective about what we are told. We must also keep in mind the author’s purpose in the details we are given. The Bible gives us few details about the supernatural and it can be noted that Satan does not show any deference to God – he does not address him as Lord, does not bow to him, nor show him any respect. What we are told is that Satan, which means “accuser”, is before God accusing Job of only being in relationship with God because of the benefits he receives from God. Just think of any love relationship. How would you feel if someone you loved left you because of a financial reversal? Wouldn’t you feel used? They’ve loved you for the benefits, instead of for who you essentially are. It’s the same with God, we should love him for who he is, not for the benefits he gives us. But how do we get there? One of the primary ways is hardship. Suffering affords the opportunity to focus on God in ways we haven’t before.