A Pharisee asked Jesus, “What’s the most important commandment of all?” There were 1,613 commands. Jesus took these 1,613 and He narrowed it down to an absolute focus. He said, “The most important is this, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and the greatest commandment. And the second command is like it.’ “Jesus said you should “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39)
Question? “Why doesn’t loving our neighbor happen very often today? Be honest. Love your neighbor as yourself. The majority of us don’t even know the names of many of our neighbors. Not only are we not regularly doing life together, intimately with other Christ Followers. Not only do we not know our neighbors, a lot of us don’t really even know our own immediate families. Let’s be honest for a minute. The way we do life has to be heartbreaking to God … So busy making money, making a name, going here, getting the kids to their activities, got to go here, here, here, here because they might just be good at gymnastics until the eighth grade when they quit. And so many families today don’t even eat or do life together. Why?
Why is it, when Jesus said to love your neighbors, we don’t even know our neighbors. The problem, my friends, all boils down to the air conditioner. Think about it. Go back in the time before there was the air conditioner, where did people hang out? They would hang out on the front porch. Right? “Hey, neighbor!” With the air conditioner, people went inside and closed their windows and doors. Add to it the attached garage. Before there was an attached garage, what would people do? They would drive into their detached garage and have to get out and walk and talk. Now, with the attached garage, they can pull right in. Add to it the garage door opener, ziiiipppp brrrrr, pull in the back cave, shut it down before you have to see anybody. There’s the fenced in back yard so we can play without having to see those crazy, weird neighbors. My personal favorite way to avoid people is the answering machine. Beep … “Steve, are you there? If you’re there, pick up.” “I’m not picking up your call.” Right? And then, there’s caller ID. Cell phone rings. Think about the way technology has influenced or, taken us away from relationships. You go to the bank and don’t have to talk to anybody. You can go to the ATM machine. Shopping, we do a great deal of our shopping online. Movies, they’re downloaded or delivered to your mailbox with no late fees or you just stand in front of a red box and tough a few buttons. Isn’t it great?
All these ways to avoid people, avoid relationships, when Jesus said out of 1,613 commands, let’s boil it all down to this. You are to know God and love Him personally and reflect His love, loving your neighbor as yourself. And yet, most people today say they don’t have time.
I have a list for you. It is some of the places in the Bible that use the phrase “one another.” Here are a few of them. There are many, many more. John 13:34, Jesus said to “Love one another,” but wouldn’t you agree, in reality a lot of times what we are doing instead of loving one another we are avoiding one another? If you have ever been in a grocery store and you’ve seen somebody you don’t really want to see and you take your little cart and you kind of dart down a different isle, avoiding one another. The Bible says to be “devoted to one another,” but wouldn’t you agree that a lot of times, the heartbeat of what we are trying to do is not to be devoted, but to be independent from one another. “I don’t want to need you because you may let me down and I’ve been burned before, and so really, I want to be strong and stand on my own, and I just don’t want to need people. I don’t want to be vulnerable, and I don’t want you to be needy around me. Instead of being devoted, a lot of us are trying to be independent.
The Bible also tells us to, honor one another. To accept one another, and yet Christians can often be the least accepting. The Bible also tells us to serve one another, to be compassionate to one another, to submit to one another. The word of God tells us to encourage one another, to spur one another on toward love and good deeds, to live in harmony and to offer hospitality.
We are told to do all these loving things to one another and yet, right now at this moment, there are people all around you who are relational empty and lonely. You can be married, laying in bed next to your spouse and be lonely, because we have ignored the heartbeat of God, and that is relationships. That’s why He created you, because He is love and He needed someone to love. You are the object of His affection, and He wants you to share that love with other people. And yet we’re too busy and too isolated though we pride ourselves in being “connected”. Seems like all our connectedness has left us highly disconnected. What do you think?