The Lord your God you shall follow, him alone you shall fear, his commandments you shall keep, his voice you shall obey, him you shall serve, and to him you shall hold fast. – Deuteronomy 13:4
Jesus said, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” – John 15:12
There is much debate and no little amount of qualifying various arguments about the violent nature of Islam. Some will say categorically that Islam is a religion based on violence. Others will say Islam is a religion of peace. Few will argue – with any credibility at all – that suicide bombers and other terrorists invoke the Muslim faith in the moment of their extreme violence, terror, and destruction.
Fewer still would ever say that Jesus taught violence of any kind. Although he did resort to overturning the money changers in the temple on one occasion, he never instructed his followers to do the same. If, in fact, you were to summarize the teachings of Jesus – and quote his summary of the Old Testament Law, you would come to one word: Love.
Moses urges God’s people to follow, fear, obey, serve, and obey his commandments. Jesus summarizes those commandments by saying, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40)
This is truly the greatest commandment, and it is much more difficult to keep than any command to kill the infidel. It is far better than the command to wipe out the unbelievers, or purify the congregation. But it is far more difficult to do than those. For the commands to inflict punishment or annihilate the enemy appeal to our base instincts, our sinful and self-righteous. But the command to love our neighbor and love God requires the influence of the Holy Spirit and our willful effort to deny our own old sinful nature.
The command to love is far better than a command to subdue and conquer. It is more difficult to keep, but better by far.