Finding Faith: A Broader Meaning of “Love Your Neighbor” – InForum
According to Martin Luther, not only did Jesus command us to love our neighbor as ourselves, but God actually created us for that very purpose. Each of us was created to receive God’s love, trust it, and then embody it in the world by loving others as God loves us.
That was the message Cynthia Moe-Lobeda gave to dozens of clergy and lay religious leaders who gathered on a Saturday in early March for an ELCA Northwestern Minnesota Synod retreat in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota. Moe-Lobeda, who is a doctor of theological ethics and speaks and consults globally, was invited to deliver the keynote address.
Many of us are aware of Jesus’ command to love others, of course. We learn it from our first days in Sunday school. But Moe-Lobeda said we often don’t understand what “love of neighbor” really is…or how revolutionary it is!
For example, we now live in a globalized society, which means that the low-paid factory workers who produce the cheap goods we buy in countries around the world are connected to us like never before. We must therefore define who our “neighbor” is as anyone our lives touch or impact – even factory workers across the world.
Luther recognized this more than 500 years ago, Moe-Lobeda said, compelling followers to live out their Christianity in their daily lives, including their economic decisions. For Luther, there was no compartmentalization of your faith to just Sunday mornings.
Certainly, we find it difficult to try to live a faithful life today. After all, we appreciate being able to buy inexpensive products from our megabox stores and from online distributors who will deliver them to our doors, sometimes even the same day. But are these economic practices good for the people who produce them? And are they good for the environment?
Moe-Lobeda shared that Luther pointed out that, yes, God loves each of us without a doubt. But if we truly receive it graciously, God’s love should transform us to embody it in our relationships with our neighbors and the rest of creation. We are, indeed, called to be the living Christ, going out and living according to love… for all.
So, in a world with so many monumental critical questions and so many divisions, where to start without being overwhelmed? Moe-Lobeda suggests we begin by remembering that each person is loved by God.
“All are beloved and precious children of God worthy of deep respect,” she told the audience of religious leaders.
So why, oh why, is it so hard for us to remember this in our dealings with our neighbors!
Well, because we are human after all, and rather than being perfect, we are “God’s rusty tools,” as Luther calls us.
Devlyn Brooks, who works for Modulist, a company owned by Forum Communications Co., is an ordained pastor with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. He is pastor of Faith Lutheran Church in Wolverton, Minnesota. He can be reached at
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