Sunday, April 19, 2015

Our FIrst Neighbor

Scripture Texts: Mark 12:13-44; Psalm 12

People loved, especially the religious leaders, to challenge Jesus with questions. No matter how many times Jesus responded in ways that astounded the people, more questions came. This passage in Mark is no different.

First the question about taxes, then about marriage after death, and finally the most important commandment. All the questions are intended to trap Jesus so that he will say something that will hurt his standing among the people. Each answer only confirms the religious leaders were way off track.

In the end, Jesus reminds the crowd what matters most. We are to love God with all that we are, and all that we have. Second, that love of God is translated into love for those around us. We do not have to get hung up on taxes, give to the government what is government's and give to God what is God's. We don't have to get hung up on who will be given to who in marriage after death. Our focus is on loving God and showing love for our neighbor.

In another part of the Scripture the question comes up from the religious leaders who is my neighbor. Jesus then tells the parable of the Good Samaritan where we find our neighbor to be anyone we come across who is in need. So our neighbor is not about who lives next door.

For those who are married more often than not our first neighbor is our spouse. The first person that we show unconditional love to is our spouse. In order to love our spouse on the level that God desires for us, we must first love God. When we are married we must make sure that we are caring for the needs of our spouse.

This does not mean that we exclude others, for anyone we come across in need is our neighbor. Still the person we encounter most often, hopefully, is our spouse. Cultivating a healthy marriage is about recognizing the needs of our spouse and caring for those needs through the love that we have with them and with God.

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