Written by Lorne Penner, FH Canada Board Chair
At this time of Easter, the greatest happening for the Christian church, it may be appropriate that we turn our minds to the example of Jesus Christ and attempt to embrace some of his simpler lessons.
Many people have commented on the pure genius of simplicity. It is widely acclaimed that there is no profit in making simple things complex, but rather, that true genius is found in making complex things simple.
St. Francis of Assisi said, “Pure, holy simplicity confounds all the wisdom of this world and the wisdom of the flesh.” And, Isaac Newton is quoted as saying that, “Truth is ever to be found in simplicity, and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things.”
Jesus appears to be the greatest reductionist of all in his simple, clear teachings on how we should live. He had a simple, clear response to those who tried to confound him with complexity when he reduced all of the religious law and remonstrations of the prophets into two simple sentences:
“‘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 unto it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ All of the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” - Matthew 22:36-40
As we recognize the significance of Easter this year, it just may be that we need not spend all of our time trying to unpack all of the complex doctrines of the church, but rather that we focus on and try to follow the simple commandments outlined above. The first, loving God with all of my heart and soul and mind, often feels too big for me and I would be lying if I said I understood it all or how to do it well. The second seems more “right sized” for my modest understanding of my Christian walk.
What loving my neighbour as myself really means becomes more clear when I contemplate the advantages I enjoy being born into a loving, stable, middle class family and community in North America during what is seemingly the most prosperous time in the history of the world.
But, the irony is, I do not need to go more than a 15 minute drive from where I am seated tonight as I write this, to find life-sapping poverty, violence, and addiction. Likewise, and even more so, when I look to my neighbours in the refugee camps and marginalized communities where Food for the Hungry works in less economically privileged parts of the world. The command is clear, but what is also clear is that I continue to fall far short of what Christ intended when he entreated us to love our neighbour as ourselves.
My hope this Easter is that God would move me ever closer to “loving my neighbour as myself,” beginning with my family and moving out to my coworkers, my countrymen, and my world.
May God grant you and your family peace in this Easter season, and may he help us all to learn to follow his simple command to love our neighbour as ourselves.
Prior to becoming a lawyer Lorne was a successful businessman in both the agricultural and construction industries. As a result of his agricultural experience, Lorne has acted as a trouble-shooter, mediator and advisor for the Government of Alberta, Department of Agriculture, and other related bodies. He has experience as a municipal councillor and continues to sit on the boards of various business and non-profit entities. He is experienced counsel in the areas of Regulatory, Business, Property, and Estate Law. Lorne has been involved in a number of large scale mergers, acquisitions, international business transactions as well as the administration of a number of large estates.