Sure, it would be nice if Jesus made more clear and concise theological statements. I guess. Although, I suspect we’d probably just argue more about what they mean. There are so many “authoritative interpretations” announced as “the right one” that it’s hard to know what to think sometimes.
So you probably should. Think about it. Really think about it.
That said, there’s lots to think about and lots of information and interpretations to consider. There’s also lots of people who are happy to tell you “the facts” and separate “the facts” from “the myths” (which are apparently bad) and, with the right delivery, their words carry a lot of weight.
It seems like all you have to do is hold up the right book and somehow it makes what you have to say “the truth.”
I think that’s why the stories need to speak just as loudly as the statements. And they need to speak to you. Please don’t let anyone “tell you how it is” unless they begin with “here’s what I think, please think about this.” And please consider their actions, too, when, assessing what they offer.
So. Please think about this.
Each of Matthew, Mark and Luke have stories of Jesus addressing which is the greatest commandment. Matthew, in particular, places it in the context of the leaders of the Temple asking Jesus questions, hoping to trap him with an answer they can use against him. Again, they seem more concerned with his words than anything else. So, in the story, this is their final question: which is the greatest commandment in the law?
That might seem tricky, there being not just the ten we’re most familiar with, but also another more than six hundred. But Jesus answers right away: love God with all your heart, soul and mind. And love your neighbour as you love yourself.
The first would likely have satisfied them, but there’s Jesus, always with the “and.” As if there’s always more. Because there is.
We’re often quick to point out that the “love” Jesus means is the unconditional, grace-filled, compassion-filled, life-giving love of God. There’s different kinds of love, of course, and we don’t want to complicate things with physical love, emotions, kinship, family, other things. This is the divine, transcendent love of God. Which is a really convenient way of holding it at arms length and making it something impossible for us to achieve. So. Please think about this: I think Jesus means all love. It’s not something to put on a pedestal and wonder at, it’s something to hold close and share generously, be amazed it and wrestle with. Love is love. It’s heart, mind and soul.
And that’s another thing. It’s in you and around you. It’s heart, soul and mind. It begins your relationship with God, with yourself and your neighbour. I’ll just say that again, so please think about this: it begins. It begins life. It begins relationship.
That’s what makes it the real test. Questions, statements, words, they’re not as challenging as love. That’s why we didn’t get more words from God, we got Jesus. Living, breathing love from the beginning. Want to know how to do love? Be Jesus.