This morning I was reading the great apostle Paul's writings in Romans 13 where he says:
"Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments…are summed up in this one rule: love your neighbor as yourself. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law."
It occurred to me that even if you were not a believer or not a Christian the idea that a religion as large as Christianity believed love of neighbor was fulfillment of the Christian mission, it would indicate the great importance of love of neighbor in Christianity. What did the founder of Christianity say was the most important commandment? He put love of neighbor as the second most important teaching:
"The most important one…is this: …Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your ssoul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater then these" (Mk 12:31)
Peter has written to the followers of his day this message:
"Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins."
So what's my point? Well, first of all, I do not understand people and religions who are lacking in compassion for their neighbor and intolerant of others who are struggling through life. These are the so called religious who demand strict compliance with their rules and regulations to the point of rejecting their neighbor. They only observe the first rule that Christ said was the most important and ignore the second. I have no patience with the self righteous who two often turn out to be hypocrites. The other thought that came to me was there are a whole lot of people who perhaps don't attend a church regularly or even claim not to have a religion, but who are deeply involved in helping others. They may not conform to the accepted manner of worship by regular church attendance or even acknowledge a faith in the accepted way, but they demonstrate a love of neighbor that does reflect a compassion and kindness all religions teach. So that's my sermon for today.