Matthew 22:34-40 A legal expert, tested Jesus. “Teacher, what is the greatest commandment in the Law? He replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: You must love your neighbor as you love yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”
Summary: God is just and loving simultaneously.
If you follow St. Augustine on Facebook, you may have noticed the comments from a recent post about “all being welcome” at St. Augustine. The picture was a rainbow with a heart that says, “you are loved.” This post gained many comments from people on the internet. Most of them were against our LGBTQ+ friends. Several of them responded with comments about Sodom and Gomorrah, which ironically is not a story about LGBTQ+ people. Many of them are defending God and morality.
That makes me think about morality. Many people angrily defend God. They believe they are being just and righteous in their anger. However, God asks his people to be moral from a motivation of love, not a drive to be right. I have heard people say that the Old Testament God is a god of justice, and the New Testament God is a god of love. This is not true because God’s character never changes. If you read the Hebrew Scriptures closely the motivation of God’s justice is always love. God’s justice is never motivated by wrath or vengeance. God is always just and always loving simultaneously. When we only see God’s righteousness, we miss something. What is often missed is that’s God’s righteousness is motivated by love. Anytime we see God’s justice enacted in scripture there is a loving act behind it. The ancient world was full of violence and abuse. When God is calling for justice, he is always defending victims of violence and abuse. When there is a call for justice it is always a call to save other people. We may be motivated by vengeance, but God’s motivation is never vengeance. God’s correction is always correction to abuse of power, injustice, or violence. God is always motivated by love. Next time you are tempted to live out God’s justice ask yourself what would a loving God do in this situation.
May you know both God’s justice and love,