The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:31
When you’re wondering whom you should show love to, there’s no living creature better than your neighbor to show love to. Your neighbors are not devils, lions, bears, or wolves. They are not made of stone or wood, but they are living beings who are much like you. Nothing living on the earth is more lovable, kind, useful, good, comforting, or necessary. They were even created for friendly conversation and for social life. Nothing in the whole world is worthier of our love than our neighbors.
But it’s the remarkable craft of the devil that he not only severely darkens our hearts and tears this superior object of our love from our hearts, but also persuades our hearts of the opposite opinion so that we think our neighbors are more deserving of bitter hatred than of love. This is easy for the devil to do. He simply nags us: “See, this person has such and such a fault. They abused you. They hurt you.” Then this object of love quickly becomes contemptible to us so that we no longer recognize our neighbors as those who should be loved but rather as enemies worthy of intense hatred. In this way, Satan can amazingly change the love in our hearts so that, instead of loving our neighbors, we become capable of demeaning, hating, and persecuting them. Then all that remains of this commandment, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” are the bare and empty letters and syllables.
The Ninety-Five Theses is a text that everyone knows, most refer to, but few actually read, writes Stephen Nichols. Nevertheless, it is such a crucial text that it deserves to be read widely. Toward that end, Nichols has prepared this edition with an illuminating introduction, explanatory notes, and several illustrations. Martin Luther has left a legacy that continues to enrich the church through his writings. . ., writes Nichols. All of this may be traced back to the last day in October 1517 and the nailing of the Ninety-Five Theses to the church door.