No, Really, Two Is More Than Enough

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I think I’m beginning to understand in a TINY way how ridiculous it is that life boils down to Two Great Commandments. Love God with everything in you as hard as you can all the time, and love your neighbor like you love yourself.

Such a straightforward mandate really scares some people, the folks who really want a school defined by a large number of very clear rules, a structure prepared in advance to handle any situation that could arise, a holiness code that guides all students in all situations.

They are afraid, I guess, that God underestimated man’s sinfulness or our need of rules to make us better people or whatever, and we need to help Him out by creating a few more than His ten.
Joey and I were talking today (it’s time for me to wrestle a class schedule into place for the upper school) and at one point it occurred to me that his job demands much servant-hearted love from him to us, the teachers and students and parents. I mean, teaching is heavily relational at NCS (a style that I am bold enough to call biblical, and perhaps normative) but we teachers aren’t called even to the level of sacrifice that Joey is.

I thought of the verse in either Matthew or Mark where Christ tells the disciples that while the Gentiles make a big deal of leaders by lifting the up, Kingdom leadership is marked by self-sacrificing servanthood. “Truly, I say to you, he who would be the greatest among you must be the servant of all.” “Except a corn of wheat fall in the ground and DIE, it cannot bear fruit.”

This love stuff isn’t for sissies.

As a teacher, I can’t really help a student unless I “own” his problems as my own. Human nature says, “Sink or swim, kid, I gave you the tools, now make it work.” Grace-based education says, “Even the classroom must model Christ as the Master Teacher.” And that means I can’t just leave behind a set of directions and walk off.  I have to get into the trench, shoulder the load, invest the time and attention to determine the right course of help.

Truth is, I’m a terrible lover. I love all the wrong things: my own comfort and happiness, my satisfaction and success, making things easier on myself, the easy road, the whim of the moment. To actually keep the Great Commandments is going to rip my heart out.

love iceAnd that’s the Grace of it. A new heart is exactly the point.

Biblical living isn’t rocket science. It’s putting myself out in order to work actively on someone else’s behalf (not merely “do no harm”).

It means DIE so that I can live.
But I don’t want to “die”……..not like that, anyway. I want a death with glory and pizzazz. There’s no pizzazz in plodding along, loving people. It’s hella inconvenient, messy, difficult, unrewarding at times, thankless, exhausting. Did I mention inconvenient?

Oh, God. Who is going to save me from the bondage of this death? 
Thanks be to God, there is therefore now no condemnation to those who are IN Christ Jesus, who walk not in the way of the carnal nature, but in the way of the Spirit.  (Romans)

Love God with everything you are as hard as you can all the time.
Love your neighbor like you love yourself.

That really does encompass it all, folks.
God help us all.

Cross-posted to Teaching Redemptively, a space where several of us are trying to write and think about Grace-based education and relational teaching


  1. A corollary to this post about the Great Commandments.

    First, if you think I am disparaging the whole of a scripture…I’m not. If God didn’t think the Word was important, He wouldn’t have preserved it for us. The 10 Commandments “unpack” the two big ones, and the stories in Scriptures serve as examples of loving God and neighbor, or (most often) failing miserably in the attempt. But don’t quibble with me when I say it all boils down to two. Jesus said it first. Take up your issue with Him. (And read 1 John. He says the same thing.)

    Second, to write one idea I don’t also have to refute all of its shoddy counterfeits. Paul himself recognized that when people start talking about Grace, they can miss the whole point and fall off the Grace-train. ( Romans 5-6.) If you think “love God and neighbor” means you can go off and do whatever the heck you want, you really don’t grasp the concept of love. Go back to Start and read the rules of the game again. Likewise, if you think you can live by a bunch of rules, knock yourself out. Not only will you wear yourself out with futile work, you won’t end up loving God or people anyway because you’re so consumed with your rules. Fail.

    Mostly though, I want to say this:
    Christ could have said any number of things to the religious people who demanded to know the most important commandment in al, the Law. What He gave us was a statement that our entire existence revolves around pouring ourselves out in love.

    Christians fight over all kinds of stupid stuff but we rarely get riled up about the Gospel.


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