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What God Requires

The reason we were created and what we are called to be is summed up in one word: love. The central defining truth of those who follow Jesus is that in Christ God ascribed unsurpassable worth to us, and thus the central defining mark of those who live in love is that they ascribe the same unconditional worth to themselves and all others.

This is what God requires. John put it this way, “This is the message you have heard from the beginning that we should love one another” (1 John 3:11). This is the message! John spoke as if there was no other message.

So too, Jesus said, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12). He spoke as though there was no other command because, as a matter of fact, there really isn’t any other command. Every other commandment and every other message is contained in this one.

Hence, after giving us the two inseparable “greatest” commands to love God and our neighbor as ourselves, Jesus added “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matt 22:40). Everything in the OT hangs on and is summed up in these two.

Paul said, “The whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Gal 5:14).

The point of all such teachings is that if we truly abide in Christ and love God, ourselves, and our neighbors as ourselves, we will fulfill everything God requires of us. It is virtually impossible to obey this commandment consistently and not fulfill the entire law. This is why Scripture consistently emphasizes that the singular aim of the disciple must be to love.

Paul said, “Above all, clothe yourself with love” (Col 3:14). Christ-like love is something we are commanded to wear. It should envelop us at all times. This command is placed “above all.” Peter agreed when he wrote, “Above all, maintain constant love for one another” (1 Peter 4:8).

There’s nothing, absolutely nothing, that should ever displace the command to love as the first and foremost concern of the disciple—no doctrine, no ethical principle, no personal agenda, and no exceptions.

If our thought word, or deed doesn’t result in ascribing unsurpassable worth to the persons we encounter, it shouldn’t be thought, voiced, or acted on. It’s that simple: love alone must govern each and every encounter in our lives.

—Adapted from Repenting of Religion, pages 48-53

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