Love for neighbour - Chiesa Evangelica Luterana in Italia

Love for neighbour

«Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another» (John 13, 34). This is Jesus’ central message to his disciples. The commandment of love for neighbour can also be found in the Old Testament (Leviticus 19, 18). For Jesus, love for one’s neighbour is the answer to all that God has done for human beings. For Jesus, love of God and love of neighbour are inseparably linked (Luke 10, 27). Since God is merciful and human beings experience his mercy through Jesus’ action, human beings too must be willing to have the utmost mercy on each other. According to Jesus, it is in this love for one’s neighbour that the, innate, love for God is revealed: «Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me» (Matthew 25, 40).

Jesus illustrates his teaching with the parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10, 25-37). Putting love for one’s neighbour into practice means asking oneself: who is my neighbour? My neighbour is whoever I meet that is in need. The ethics of Jesus is based on the need of one’s neighbour and requires a love that gives the other what he or she concretely needs to live.

Paul explicitly puts Christian ethos into the context of the commandment to love one’s neighbour when he writes: «Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. In fact, the commandments “You shall not commit adultery, you shall not kill, you shall not steal, you shall not bear false witness against your neighbour, you shall not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” Love does no harm to our neighbour. Therefore love is the fulfilment of the Law» (Romans 13, 8ff.).

Love for one’s neighbour finds its expression in Diakonia, which is the life and essence of the Church (cf. Acts of the Apostles).