Getting Stuck On Loving God

I want to connect two points, one I make in Reviving Old Scratch and one I make in Stranger God.

These observations are about the relationship between the two Greatest Commandments, loving God and loving your neighbor.

In Reviving Old Scratch I raise the issue about if the Greatest Commandments are referring to two separate loves--a love toward God and a second love toward our neighbor--or a single, united love. I make the argument for a "one love" interpretation, that loving our neighbors is how we are to love God. This interpretation, I argue, prevents conflict between the Greatest Commandments, situations where our love of God is used against our love of neighbors.

In Stranger God I make the point that most of our spiritual formation efforts are aimed at better loving God. Few spiritual disciplines are directly aimed at better loving our neighbor. Prayer, Sabbath, fasting, Bible study, and silence, for example, are all aimed at loving God rather than loving our neighbor.

Now here's the common objection you hear about what I just said. When we come to love God more and more, it is argued, this will naturally flow over into loving our neighbors more and more.

Theoretically, I agree with that. But far too often in the practice of the spiritual disciplines, I see Christians getting stuck on loving God without that translating into loving their neighbors.

All that to say, I just don't buy the notion that spiritual disciplines aimed at loving God have this automatic, trickle-down effect into loving neighbors.

I think the norm is people getting stuck on loving God and never getting around to loving their neighbors.

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