Tuesday 19 March

8You do well if you really fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ 9But if you show partiality, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.

There is a “royal law according to the scripture.” It is not a moralistic check list of do’s and dont’s by which to assess who’s been naughty and who’s been nice. It is the pattern by which life works. It is the nature of cause and effect built into God’s creation.

When Jesus was asked to say what is the most important thing for a human life, he responded,

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.’ [and] ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these. (Mark 12:30, 31)

The “royal law,” in its most succinct version is, “You shall love…”

Love is the way thing work. It is the operating principle of life.  Love is the means and direction of all true human flourishing.

But the fact that love is a “commandment” and a “royal law,” does not mean it is something I have the power to do with my own strength or under my own initiative.

The vision of love Jesus held out, is too high to be attained by human striving or self-discipline. He instructed his followers, not only to love their neighbours, but even to “love” their enemies and to pray for those who persecute them (Matthew 5:44). This is no easy commandment.

I am not capable of the kind of love Jesus demanded. The truth is I do “show partiality”; I am “convicted” by the law of love as a “transgressor”.

It is only the power of love within me that enables me to love. There is no hope in screwing up my determination to be more loving. Love is not a make-work project. It is a surrender project. The challenge is to surrender myself more deeply to that power that is the source of all life and the sustaining force of the universe.

Only love working in me makes it possible for me to move beyond “partiality” and to “love my neighbour as myself,” let alone love my “enemy.”