Christ’s Two Greatest Commandments
I grew up in the Christian church like lots of folks. I actually came very close to becoming an ordained minister in my 20s. My heart was for Christ and will always be but my own observations and experience with the inauthenticity of much of institutionalized Christianity pushed me in other directions.
My grandmother whom was my primary mother figure, was a holy and godly woman herself. She was an ordained Pentecostal minister of 50+ years and the closest to a living saint I had ever been around. Many miracles were attributed to her divine connection and her fervent prayers were a powerful catalyst in the transformation that led to my own miracle of finally getting and staying clean and sober since 2005.
Such a beautiful and powerful soul she was and I’ll be forever grateful for her living demonstration of authentic Christianity and her profound influence upon my life. There’s something tragic however that often happens to beautiful spiritual teachings when we over-organize and institutionalize them. This was and had already happened when Christ was teaching. We somehow missed this lesson echoed in his many admonishments that he frequently gave to the Sadducees and Pharisees of his time. They like many today, were more concerned with the letter of the law, self-importance and self-righteousness than teaching and demonstrating the beautiful, liberating essence of Christianity. And history repeats itself until we “get it” so it seems.
By age 21 I had became desperately hungry for spiritual truth and liberation. I had already had profound spiritual experiences and life-altering revelations beginning at the age of 4. Once when hopping down from my treehouse and walking up to my house I recall vividly my first profound realization of beingness, full awareness of the Self and becoming Self-conscious of my personhood. In that instantaneous moment it flashed through my mind like thunder, in milliseconds, how I had come into conscious awareness as the person and had assumed this body identity as this entity person known by those around me as Mark. This spacious, pure consciousness of awareness now suddenly found itself here, now, expressing through and within this form.
Conscious awareness was now experiencing itself as an “I” form, as this person. This profound realization of knowing although jarring at the time, was profoundly clear in my young understanding too. Years later I would read of very similar first dawnings of consciousness realization moments by others. Though a rare phenomena it was commonplace experience amongst sages, teachers and other advanced spiritual aspirants.
At the age of 8 I remember above all things wanting to know God, wanting desperately to reconnect with what I was experiencing being moved away from, seemingly. By that time the conditioning of this world had taken root and I had already experienced much pain and suffering. Most attributed to the turmoil, violence and neglect of a very dysfunctional, broken home and abandonment by my own mother at age 5.
I recall vividly one instance at that same age where I went into the woods, as I frequently did as a boy. My sole, burning, singe intention was to hear the voice of God. I had to hear and feel God. It was as though my life depended upon it. My resolve was searing and I remember thinking, I will not leave these woods until I hear God.
I climbed a rather large and tall dirt mound in the woods that was there from a pond excavation on my uncle’s property. It was my mountain. I often called it that as I and a couple of friends would frequently play on it. In my own mind due to conditioning, I thought God to be up high in the heavens. That mountain was as high as I could get so I thought it’d help.
I prayed. I cried atop that mountain as a young boy. Yearning to hear the voice of God. It seemed like an eternity passed and although I felt more connected I still had heard no audible voice. Out of frustration and tiredness I came down but did not return home.
I roamed the woods for what must have been at least a half hour or more. The more I walked and looked around me the more I began to sense an undeniable awareness of powerful divinity and God consciousness in expression all around me. It was both profound and revealing to discover that this God I was told only existed up in the heavens high, was in realty in everything all around me. Including my own awareness.
Literally dying a slow, hellish , death of misery enslaved by a ravaging Opiate addiction at 21 I cried out to God, as I understood God saying literally, “God I don’t know who you are or what you are but I have got to have some relief. I’m dying.” I was forced to drop my learned concepts of God and divinity.
All my religious training and so called knowledge of God had failed me. I became open and teachable to the spirit of truth itself. Grace rushed in to hold, heal, and lift me up. My life has never been the same since then.
Considering all the doctrines and scriptures in Christianity when Christ was asked, “which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” It is recorded that he replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40
The aforementioned two pointers sum up the ideal of true, authentic, Christianity or perhaps what it truly means to be “Christlike”.