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‘love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Matthew 22:39)

A commission of public enquiry, conducted in a Western country recently, sounded a desperate note for the future of human relations. It warned: "The most pressing problem in this country seems to be for its people to learn to live again in a real community, where people are concerned for one another's welfare."

Fyodor Dostoyevsky said: "I could never understand how one could love one's neighbor. It's just one's neighbors, to my mind, that one can't love-though one might love those at a distance. The more I love humanity in general, the less I love man in particular."

The sad truth of human beings is, that they can love the idea of love, but find themselves incapable of practicing it. We easily talk of loving our neighbor, but baulk like Balaam's ass when it comes to doing it. In the last 100 years normal human beings have murdered one hundred million of their fellows. Since the two world wars of last century, we have readied ourselves to a shocking level of preparedness, to violate and exterminate our neighbors on an awful scale. Karl Barth commented, that it only needed the atom and the hydrogen bomb to complete the self disclosure of human nature. In other words, the stark malignancy of human evil-our unwillingness to love-is now writ large.

Over against the disease of lovelessness, stands the injunction: "Love your neighbor as yourself." We know this law asks more of us than we can give, but we also know that without it, we shall perish. Our only hope, is that God will love us in spite of our weakness, and that he will patiently fashion us after his likeness.

 

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