Neighbour Love (chr.)

 Citation link: Neighbour Love (chr.)  

(Turk. Yakın Sevgisi)

The specific character of Christian morality comes into view in the commandment to love: ‘A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.’ (Jn 13.34) That is the main message of Jesus to His disciples. The differentiating Christian aspect of this call lies in its explanation, not in its content. The Old Testament evokes the commandment of neighbour love (Lev 19.18) as well. For Jesus, however, the love for one’s neighbour is not the pinnacle of moral endeavour but rather a response to the preceding action of God towards humankind. For Him, a love of God and a love of one’s neighbour are inseparably linked (Lk 10.27). Because God is merciful and because humankind experiences His mercy in the work of Jesus, people should be willing to display the utmost compassion and love towards their fellow humans as well. For Jesus, it is in this love of one’s neighbour that love for God manifests itself at the same time: ‘[A]s you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.’ (Mt 25.40). Jesus illustrates His teaching in the parable of the good Samaritan (Lk 10.25‑37). Putting this love into practice means asking oneself: For whom am I the neighbour? Who is my neighbour? The neighbour is always the one whom I happen to encounter, the one who needs my loving attention and aid. Jesus’ ethics begin with the neighbour’s plight and calls for a love that gives the other what he or she – here and now – concretely needs to live. What is called for is not a heroic love but rather a love that does what it can. In Christianity, this love of one’s neighbour, postulated by Jesus and oriented around God’s conduct towards humankind, has been the standard and the model for the kind of love that should prevail in all areas of human life. Paul expressly situates the Christian ethos in the context of the commandment to love when he writes: ‘Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbour has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.”‘ (Rom 13.8 f.).

Hans-Günter Gruber

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