All I need to worry about is “Me and Jesus,” right? Pop-Christianity has perpetuated this overly-simplistic dogma. But does it do more harm than good? I think yes.
The main reason I think it does more harm than good is that it is almost always used in contrast to your relationships with other people. In other words, yes, loving your friends or your spouse or your enemy is important. But, it’s not as important as loving Jesus.
We say “your relationship with God comes first. Everyone else is second.”
And while in a certain sense this is true, in the nuanced challenge of living out one’s faith in a physical world, it rings hollow. It presents a false dichotomy, implying that it is even possible to love Jesus apart from loving others. One cannot.
“Loving Jesus” (i.e. Loving God) is not some intangible, purely spiritual or intellectual assent of faith. It’s not something that can happen apart from your relationships with other people. Rather, it is all wrapped up together.
That’s why for married couples the primary, tangible way you “love Jesus” is by loving your spouse. You love Jesus through your spouse. If you do not love your spouse, you do not love Jesus. If you do not love your friends, you do not love Jesus. If you do not love your enemies, you do not love Jesus. If you want to love God, you must love Him through others. There is no getting around it.
In this sense, loving others comes first – not second. Not because they are the primary object of our Love, but because they are the conduit for it.
So being a Christian is never “just me and Jesus.” It’s always “me and Jesus – and everyone else.” We’re all in this thing together.
“Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’
Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’
Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’
Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’ He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” [Matthew 25]