I am continuing with post #53 of a series on the secrets of the kingdom, (click link for a summary of passages considered so far). Taking a look today at:
Mark 12:28-34 (NET)
"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, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions."Most religions have a tenancy to come up with many different rules to live by. Some of the rules may help guide people towards loving God and people better. Other rules may not. The parallel passage in Matthew 22:37-40 goes as far as saying all laws should be able to be summarized by these two statements.
The expert in the law in this passage seems to understand the rules or parameters of the kingdom of God, however we are not told if he accepts and enters in. I suspect understanding the correct answer to this question isn't quite enough.
Some may be concerned about which comes first, the chicken or the egg. In this case does loving God and people get you into the kingdom of God? Or does living a life of love towards God and all others flow naturally when we are living under the reign of God? The later sounds safer theologically.
I'd love to hear your thoughts.