It’s a familiar story in the New Testament, recorded by both Matthew and Mark. Religious leaders, sometimes the Pharisees and other times the Sadducees, keep trying to trip Jesus up. They fire one question after another, like should taxes be paid to Rome (unpopular with the people and guaranteed to get a response from Roman authorities) and a really tedious one about a man who marries seven times and which one will he be resurrected with in heaven. Jesus bats each one down, so effortlessly and authoritatively that the crowd is astonished.
Then the Pharisees “get together” and hand him a question that they think will finally do the trick. “Teacher,” one asks, who is “an expert in the law,” “which is the greatest commandment in the law?” The purpose here was the hope that the answer would generate controversy and division among the people.
Jesus, who knew the law (and the experts) better than any of his questioners, responds with a two-part answer: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:34-40).
Familiar story, yes, but what does it mean to love God with all of our heart, soul and mind? How do we love our neighbor as ourselves?
Tristan Sherwin, a pastor with Metro Christian Centre in Bury, England, has answers to those questions. And those answers come from Scripture, from his own life and that of his family, from his church, and from the people in his neighborhood.
A pastor at Metro Christian Centre in Bury, England, Sherwin has created Love: Expressed to answer those questions about love. His answers are as simple as they are profound, written in an engaging, conversational that may make this my favorite book about “theology” this year, perhaps because it is less about theology and more about living one’s faith.
Sherwin structures his discussion around eight chapters: obedience, learning, mercy, service, worship, Sabbath, prayer, and humility. Each is filled with both Scripture passages (like the parables) and examples from daily life. Both questions about love – how to love God and how to love one’s neighbor – are answered in each chapter. But this isn’t some rigid formula he follows; instead, as he writes and tells his stories and discusses passages from both the Old and New Testaments, the answers unfold in the readers’ mind.
He reaches deep in his discussion. His chapter on the Sabbath describes a time in his own life that will seem all too familiar to many if not most of us – when we get become so caught up in success (including “success for the Lord”) that we bring ourselves to the point of breakdown, and sometimes beyond.
Love: Expressed is itself an expression of love, a discussion from the heart about what it means to love.
Photograph by George Hodan via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.