Mistaken Math?

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Rabbi, what is the greatest commandment? 

No matter how familiar this interaction from Mark 12 has become, to this day I remain surprised by Jesus’s response. Jesus seemingly ignores what is being asked of him. The religious teacher asks Jesus to narrow the 613 commands that faithful Israelites observed down to one.


Yet Jesus gives him two, which leads to the real surprise in Jesus’s response.

Clearly, Jesus recognizes an opportunity to reframe the leader’s perspective (and ours as well!). Had Jesus simply answered with one commandment — “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength” — no one would’ve batted an eye.

That’s the Sunday School answer.

And it would’ve been absolutely correct.

Yet Jesus wants us to see there’s more to the life of faith.

To see that the love we were created for is incomplete if it is only directed toward God.

“The second is like it: love your neighbor as yourself.”

The love that pours out of us should reflect the Love in whose image we are created,

and that love is poured out almost recklessly to everyone, everywhere.

As we’ve zeroed in on Flourish’s approach to the work of placemaking over the past few years, we’ve mimicked Jesus in our encouragement to churches:

Yes, it’s great for our church buildings to be used as expressions of our love for God—as houses of worship.

At Flourish, we affirm that wholeheartedly. No church would disagree with that.

That’s the Sunday School answer.

But what if…

What if we believed it was just as important for our church buildings to demonstrate love for our neighbors?

What if our heart, soul, mind, and strength were poured into answering that question equally well?

That question forms the basis for our placemaking framework. If you’ve been around for a while, you’ve seen earlier iterations of this:

In the weeks ahead we’ll do a deep dive into each quadrant, asking,

What does it mean to use our church buildings to love our neighbors with all our HEARTSOULMIND, and STRENGTH?

While the American church as we’ve known it is dying a slow death, we believe the key to its resurrection might just reside within its ability to face that question honestly and then begin to answer it with an enlarged vision, a renewed passion, and a faithful, hope-filled, neighbor-loving posture.

Love abounds,