When Jesus was asked by a lawyer what was the most important of all the commands in scripture (our Old Testament), He responded saying that all of "The Law" (Genesis through Deuteronomy) and "The Prophets" (Isaiah through Malachi), in other words His whole Bible, can be summed up in these two commands; "You must love the Lord your God with all of your heart, all of your soul, and all of your mind...and...You must love your neighbor as yourself." (Deut. 6:4-7, Matt. 22:37-40, Mk. 12:30-31, Lk. 10:25-37)
Jesus summary of the law is the foundation of life in Christ and the answer to the universal question "Why am I here? Why do I exist?" God created us for the purpose of relationship with Him and our fellow sojourners here in our world. Interestingly when Jesus was asked a follow-up question, to the second law, "Who is my neighbor?" He told the most famous of parables about the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29ff.). In this story we learn about a man (presumably a Jewish man, though the text doesn't specify) traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. Along the way he is attacked by thieves who beat him, rob him of his possessions and left him for dead. The story goes on to say that at different times a priest and a levite (both religious representatives of faith) saw the beaten man and passed on by him avoiding any contact with him or any disturbance to their plans. Then came a Samaritan man. When the Samaritan saw the man, he helped him. He bandaged his wounds and brought him to an inn. He personally paid for the beaten mans shelter and care while he mended. Jesus asked which of the three travelers that saw the man left for dead was a neighbor to him. The answer was plain. The Samaritan man treated the man as a neighbor should, and Jesus said, "Go and do likewise."
Care was taken by Jesus, in this parable, to point out that the two passersby who did not stop to help were a Jewish Priest and a Levite. If anyone should have stopped it should have been them. These men claimed to represent God with their lips and their pious rituals but they did not truly follow God in his compassion and mercy toward the needs of all people, at least not in this example. This was an indictment by Jesus against religious hypocrisy. He then makes a point to specify that the one who did stop was a Samaritan. This reference was loaded with meaning in His day. Samaritan's and Jews though related were not very friendly toward one another. Pious Jew's looked down at Samaritan's with racist prejudice. So Jesus, addressing a Jewish lawyer, was essentially saying that we are to treat all people with the kindness that this Samaritan in the story showed the man beaten in the ditch. All people are our neighbors. We are to love all people.
At Berean we affirm this truth. God has called us to love all people. To care about individuals regardless of race, nationality, affinity, gender, color, etc.
The definition of love here is so important though because in our world love can mean so many things. We are called to love the way that Jesus did. Paul describes love in...
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (NIV)
4 Love is patient,love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.
This is the kind of love that we are striving to exhibit toward God, each other and toward the people of our world. We believe that it is the purpose for which we were created and the mission of our lives both as individuals and as a Church family.