Reading: Romans 13: 8-10
Verse Eight: He who loves his fellow man has fulfilled the law.
God has always loved humankind. Mankind was created in His image and we are intended to be like Him. The essence of the relationship between God and human beings is love. God loves us and cares for us in so many ways. In return, we love God and try to live lives that are pleasing to God. To help us understand what love is really all about, Jesus came and walked among us, revealing what it looks like to live out God’s love for humanity. Jesus did not really come to teach us a bunch of new things but to better understand what was already there. When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, He did not make up something new. Instead He reached deep into the scriptures and named two from the Old Testament. Both centered on love. Jesus said, in fact, that if we love God with all we are and if we love neighbor as self, then all the other commandments will follow.
Paul picks up on these themes today. In an increasingly diverse church, Paul is sensing a growing need for unity and community. So he returns to the foundation: love. It is at the center of God, was at the center of Jesus, and must be at the center of all believers. In verse eight Paul writes, “He who loves his fellow man has fulfilled the law”. For Paul, we must love one another. This is where unity and community begin. Once we truly love one another then things like trust and cooperation and hospitality are soon to follow. Once we begin to understand this aspect of God’s love, we begin to practice it with others.
Being human himself and understanding that the church is made up of other sinful creatures, Paul also knew another aspect of God’s love was also important. Paul knew the church also needed to know and live out God’s love revealed in His mercy. At times our relationships require forgiveness and reconciliation. This side of God’s love is all about renewing and restoring and forgiving. This too is a part of God’s love for us. This too is a part that we are called to share with one another. In all ways this day, may we each love our fellow man.