In a time of crisis, it is helpful to review the basics.
The most trustworthy basic I know is the Golden Rule. An expert in the law heard Jesus debating in public, admired his answers and so asked, “Of all the commandments, which is the greatest?”
Jesus answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. ’The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
It sounds so easy; but we all know it’s hard.
For starters, we’re terribly busy these days. That “love the Lord your God” business gets pushed down further and further on the To Do list.
Then there are our “hearts and souls” shriveling from poor nutrition and outright neglect.
Our “minds” are occupied with social media, browsing the net, online shopping, and streaming Netflix.
“Strength?” It sounds so, well, tiring. Maybe someone will make an app for it.
Moderns have put a spin on “love your neighbor as yourself,” claiming the verse is actually a command to love yourself first because you can’t love others until you love yourself. That might be true for a few but, for most of us, love of self comes naturally. Often, too naturally. Dangerously naturally. It is our loving others that needs cultivation and examination.
C.S. Lewis, author “The Chronicles of Narnia,” once wrote, “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal . . . ” It’s a shocking claim on the surface, but the reason there are no ordinary people is that we have been created in the image of God.
Lewis went on to say that our greatest joys in life come from relationships between people who take one another seriously with no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption—relationships in which people think before they act or speak. If only. Yet, things impossible to man are possible with God.
There is one more “basic” that keeps running though my head. It is the prayer that never fails. It was told to me by an older gentleman, a former Marine thrust into World War II as a young man with brief preparation. He and his fellow Marines were basically abandoned on the battle-entrenched island of Guadalcanal. They were sick with dysentery and malaria, surviving on meager rations. When one of them threatened mutiny, he knew he had to act quickly, so he prayed the prayer that never fails, “Lord, help.”
A fine prayer then and a fine prayer now.