First on the list: Love the Lord. Second on the list: Love your neighbor. Our METL is held in these two sentences.
And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:28–31)
Among the plethora of military acronyms is METL: Mission Essential Task List. Simply put, METL is a list of things that are non-negotiable to accomplish a mission.
If we read Mark 12:28–31 with military mission in mind, we could say it includes the METL for a Christ-follower. First on the list: Love the Lord. Second on the list: Love your neighbor. Brothers and sisters, our METL is held in these two sentences.
Put yourself in the place of the scribe questioning Jesus. “Which commandment is the most important of all?” He was not expecting a simple answer. He knew there are 365 prohibitions and 248 positive commands in the Torah or Jewish Law.1 But the answer Jesus gives was both succinct and compelling.
Jesus’s words emphasize too that following him is not about a list of things we must do for God’s approval. Following Jesus is a call to himself. It is a call to love him supremely and to love others as we love ourselves. Loving others is the visible expression and practical display of my love for God. It is how God’s love spills over in my life.
At first, it would seem that Jesus made serving God easier by narrowing the list of commands from 613 to two. But when followed wholeheartedly, these two commands inspire an unlimited number of actions. The METL of a military unit is usually short and simple to read, but it can be complex and challenging to accomplish, and must be continuously practiced. The METL Jesus provides for our lives is short and easy to memorize, but we never can check off the list as complete. We make every effort, by faith in Christ, to increase our love for God and others.
What have you done over the last week to support these two primary tasks in life?
Prayer for the Journey
Lord, show me the things that keep me from loving you with my whole heart. Increase my love for you, and show me ways to demonstrate that love in my love of others. Amen.
1 Morna D. Hooker, The Gospel According to Saint Mark: Black’s New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2009), 288.