I'm starting to fear that the trend in all aspects of life is to "boil it down," ever smaller.
Audiences want it memorable, meaningful, compact and portable. It also wouldn't hurt if it was a bit cute: a pithy parable. If you can't tweet it, nobody is interested, and you had better not use a comma or introduce multiple thoughts or you'll lose everybody immediately. Rich complexity is evil and time consuming; keyword-based simplicity is good and leaves enough time and energy to go on to the next best thing that we will ALSO only invest a few moments of our life in.
Greatest Commandment Theology would fit in perfectly with the lifestyle of the overstimulated, and do so under 140 characters.
The problem for that worldview is that Christianity needs more room than that. It is diverse, curious, complicated, sometimes even vague or subtle. The Greatest Commandment is that which contains all others, but to just fling it at anybody in the room with a serious, probing, complicated mess of a problem in their life - treating the Greatest Commandment as a sort of apologist's booger - accomplishes little (and like a flung booger, is very unappealing for most). Sometimes such an oversimplification of faith drives people who are NOT simple and do NOT have simple lives away from the church.
To answer the blogger, Jesus didn't leave anything out. The author says "That’s the part he left out! It’s not
love God, and then love your neighbor. It’s love God, feel how much God loves you, and then
love your neighbor."
I respectfully disagree. It's love God, and like unto it, love your neighbor. They are two sides of the same coin. We can say we love God, but if it isn't manifesting itself in love of our neighbor, then the coin isn't actually as big as we are convincing ourselves. Being two sides of the same coin, both must have equal dimensions. Our overall faith coin is only as big as its smallest side.
And yeah, I just got cute and tried to boil it down, but what is contained in this commandment is the further expansion Jesus did on the Law. He goes and says "Repent" then gives a pretty detailed rundown of exactly WHAT a repentant soul looks like in Matthew 5-7, The Sermon on the Mount. I always start there, I challenge others to clear their head of all they have been led to believe Christianity to be, then read those three chapters with an open mind. Their mind can typically find no fault there. Jesus makes quite a bit of sense now that the culture of Christians has been stripped off his person. Once their mind is opened, then we can look to opening their hearts and souls. Yeah, the red letters are still pretty short, but the study continues and continues...
For instance, you find information on the cultural and religious background of the writers, their audiences, the extenuating circumstances under which these different books (spanning different geographies and different time periods) were written, and WHY. All of that makes your faith so much richer. Christianity constantly unfolds, and it is a wonderful and lifelong process. Theologians with scholarly biblical acumen of GENIUS proportions, after a lifetime of developing their faith die wishing they could learn just one thing more; then realizing all will be soon revealed, go to meet their Maker. I simply don't understand people who want to fold all that back up and stick it in their pocket.
Unfold it, make it complicated and messy. People ARE complicated and messy; and we aren't about to be perfect, but we can keep seeking after a perfect God. Recently I read something along the lines of "Express what Christianity is to you in seven words or less!" as a fun little exercise on Facebook or someplace (geez, now I hope it wasn't Image's FB
) ...but I couldn't help but ask myself "Why would I EVER do that?" ...a question I realized was under seven words.
"The most important thing he ever said?" Blech.
The most important thing Jesus ever said was what he said with his life
, all of it. How very appropriate he is referred to as The Word. I can hardly think of anything more delightfully complex.
Edited by Pair, 06 November 2011 - 04:28 AM.