In the wake of this election, God calls us to love our neighbors as ourselves

The greatest commandment is: love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. And the second greatest is like it: love your neighbor as yourself. Of all the commandments, these are the two that are the most important to be obeyed. It could be argued that if these commandments are followed sincerely and firmly, then all other commandments will follow in kind: you will not steal from your neighbor if you love her like yourself. You will not kill your neighbor if you love him like yourself. And you will not do either of these things if you love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.

I’ve thought a lot about the second commandment, “love your neighbor as yourself.” To me, this commandment can mean two things. It can mean that we are to love our neighbors as much as we love ourselves, with the same intensity. But it can also mean that we are to love our neighbors at the same time that we love ourselves – as we are going through the process of loving ourselves, part of that process must also be to love our neighbors.

As an extension of this commandment, I believe that when we consider what is best for ourselves, we must also, with the same intensity and at the same time, consider what is best for our neighbors and our actions must be governed by these considerations. When we live and breath and move in the world, we are constantly making decisions regarding what makes us comfortable, what makes us safe, but we do not always consider what would make our neighbors comfortable or safe. I believe that in this way, we have violated the second greatest commandment.

We are not called to love our families as ourselves, or our friends as ourselves; we are called to love our neighbors as ourselves. Our neighbor may not love us as much as we love them, or at all. In some cases, our neighbor maybe even be our enemy. Our neighbor may break each commandment against us (stealing, lying, even murder), yet we are called to love our neighbor as ourselves. Though we may have no tangible reason to love them, we are called, nonetheless, to love them.

This love should be active and bold. It should take the form of encouragement, joy, listening, comfort and advocacy. It should manifest itself in grace, truth, lamentation and justice. It should cause us to examine our long-adhered-to ways of being, question our privilege and fight for equality.

It is natural for us to look out for our own interests, but we are also called to look out for the interests of others. It is natural for me to cast a vote for the candidate that I believe would be best for me, but I am also called, according to this commandment, to vote (with the same intensity, at the same time) for the candidate that would be best for my neighbor.

And yet, this choice remains: we who voted for Hillary Clinton and feel betrayed by those who voted for Donald Trump still have to love our neighbors as ourselves. Those among us who fear for their lives, even within that fear and grief, must learn to love their neighbors as themselves, as impossible and heartbreaking as that is, because it is what God commands us to do. And when we are given the choice between supporting people and policies that makes us comfortable or advocating for a person who is afraid or vulnerable, may we always choose to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.