You have to start somewhere

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”“The most important one,” answered Jesus …
- from Mark 12:28-29
Jesus took the bait. When asked to prioritize the commandments, he waded in. This would have been a hot topic.
According to tradition, there were 613 commandments (called ‘mitzvot’) in the Jewish scriptures. They would organize around different sets of priorities. Readers could find commands that called for purity and holiness and also commands that called for hospitality and celebration. As we explored yesterday, one’s priorities could be painted pretty broadly on this canvas.
Why would Jesus wade into such a subjective debate?
He isn’t trying to argue or persuade. As we’ll see later in the week, he doesn’t back up his statement. He isn’t trying to shame or take a side either. He often ends up standing in a third space between warring factions. No, he’s doing something different.
Jesus shifts the focus of the question from the command to the relationships. But in order to do this, he has to accept the challenge. He has to engage in the conversation. He has to take the first step.
This is the way of Jesus and this is the way it is for us who follow him. We may want to have a different set of conversations with the people we love or a different way of engaging with our local community. But we have to start where we can start. And authentic engagement in that place can pave the way for future conversations.
As we gear up for Chatham Serves as a church (, we want to invite you to look around you and see where there are open doors … open doors to serve, to show compassion, to have a conversation. Where do you have opportunities around you to make a difference? How might you walk through those open doors?

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