Call to Justice

To Love Your Neighbor as Yourself: an Interfaith Perspective on the Great Commandment

By June 11, 2011April 15th, 2014No Comments

Christian References Mark 12: 28-34; Matthew 19:19, 22:39, Luke 10:27, Romans 13:9, Galatians 5:14, James 2:8
Jewish References: Leviticus 19: 17 and 18, Leviticus 19: 33 and 34, Talmud, Shabbat 31a, Tobit 4:15
Islamic References: Number 13 of Imam “Al-Nawawi’s Forty Hadiths”

Most DART organizations include Christian, Jewish and Muslim congregations working together to do justice. Below we take a look at the common commandment, to love your neighbor as yourself, and its relevance to the work of DART.

Christianity, Judaism, and Islam share a crucial common message known by many as the Great Commandment. Jesus echoes word-for-word the same message found in the Jewish scripture to “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” In the Koran, we find the same simple sentiment, “None of you truly believes unless you love for your bother what you love for yourself.”

One of the most basic ways we love ourselves is both believing that we deserve fair treatment and acting on this belief. When someone treats us unfairly, we attempt to stop it. This is certainly one of the ways we love ourselves. Part of what it means to be created in the image of God is that we are entitled to be treated with dignity.

With that in mind, we recognize that this commandment is one of reciprocity – it reaches beyond ourselves and commands us to want the same for others. When we see our neighbor treated unjustly, how are we to respond? If we are comfortable saying, “I would not accept being treated unfairly,” isn’t it safe to suggest that we ought to not accept others being mistreated when seeking to live out this commandment?

In the Bible, we see many religious leaders responding to the injustice faced by family, neighbors, and loved ones. Nehemiah confronts money lenders for gouging the people, Moses confronts Pharaoh for enslaving the Hebrew people, Jesus confronts the hypocrisy of the religious leaders by doing miracles on the Sabbath, and Jeremiah shames the King for using his power and influence for personal gain. These are all courageous examples of living out the Great Commandment.

Daily, we see in our communities:

Families declaring bankruptcy due to the increased costs of healthcare
Children graduating from public school without the basic ability to read or write
Workers unable to provide the basics for their families despite putting in an honest week’s work
Youth being recruited into violence and substance abuse.

Religious leaders involved with DART do not accept these injustices and have come together around the shared commandment to treat their neighbor as they wish to be treated.

For further study on the theme of the Great Commandment, we encourage you to read the aforementioned scriptures and Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., as well as attend DART’s 5-Day National Orientation Workshop.