So I was visiting friends and family when an episode of Moonshiners comes onto the television. In a matter of minutes I was laughing so hard I was crying. If you have never seen the show, it is a reality television show that documents the lives of a handful of individuals who make moonshine for a living. The scenarios are clearly embellished for television. Nevertheless, during the show they actually break down the process of making moonshine. The two primary steps are fermentation and distillation. And while the first step is so critical to the process, today’s scripture reminds me of the second step, distillation.
Distillation is the process of separating the components or substances from a liquid mixture by selective boiling and condensation. Another definition uses the words “purify”, and to “extract the essential meaning or most important aspects of.” When Jesus was asked to take all of the law, and all of the teachings of all of time from all of the prophets an teachers of the law, he was being asked to distill all of the teachings. In today’s scripture, Jesus responds as follows…
Image courtesy of: wonder_al
“The most important one is this: Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 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.” – Mark 12:29-31
Back when I was younger, they had book “cliff-notes”. Today they have audio book summaries and audio book summary clubs. If you want to get to the essential parts of a book, you can purchase or subscribe to one of these services and download it. In the same way, Jesus in essence distills the key aspects of all of the teachings. Jesus boils it down (pun intended) to these two things: (1) love the Lord your God, and the (2) love your neighbor as yourself. And within those two points, it is not difficult to notice one common theme. And that theme is love.
What Jesus says is the most important of the two is to love the Lord our God. So if there is one thing that we are to do, it is this. So what does loving the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength mean? Well what exactly that looks like might differ a bit from person to person. But I can certainly tell you what it does not mean. It does not mean pulling God and prayer out of public schools. It does not mean worrying too much about being being politically correct. It does not mean voting to murder unborn babies in the womb. It does not mean giving glory and praise to everyone in sports and entertainment award ceremonies without first acknowledging and thanking God for everything that we are and have. It does not mean giving all the credit for our success to “luck” or “coincidence”. When Jesus says to love God with all your heart, all your mind, all your soul, and all your strength, he is talking about loving God above all else.
And as far as the second love, loving your neighbor as yourself, this statement is a two-part statement. The first part of the statement, to love others, is pretty straightforward. It’s the second part of the statement that tells us that we are to love ourselves is what gets interesting. This isn’t self-love like having an ego kind of love. It means taking care of ourselves and treating ourselves with love and respect by honoring all that God has given us including our minds, our bodies, our time, and our talents. And in marriage, loving our spouse is part of loving ourselves since two become one.
So what does making moonshine and today’s scripture have in common? When it is all boiled down, fully separated, and distilled, what is left, and what is purest, is love. And wouldn’t we all agree that is more of what this world needs?
Dear heavenly Father, thank you for this wonderful Word today. Help us to love our neighbors as ourselves. We love You first and foremost, God above all others, name above all names, Creator, Father, Redeemer, Almighty, Loving Father. Help us to stay connected to you throughout the day. Fill our hearts full of love. Fill us with less of us, and more of You. We want more of You God. We give all honor and glory to You and You alone. We receive you into our hearts, and receive your Promise now. Let your Holy spirit overflow in us. We give you all the honor and glory and praise, in Jesus mighty name. Amen.
Today’s full reading: Deuteronomy 1,2; Mark 12
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