Posted by: Mike Willoughby | October 19, 2009

I Got Your Back

Got Your Back Duck

One day, a religious leader approached Jesus and asked him in a 50,000 foot kind of way for the greatest command. Jesus told the man the greatest command was, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” He continued to say the second most important command was just like the first, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus said everything written in the Bible depended on these two commands. The word Jesus used for “depends” means “hangs from” or “is suspended from” like a suspension bridge hangs from its towers and cables. In other words, every theological point, practical living instruction, worship expectation and piece of relationship advice found in the Bible can be traced back to the motivation found in our love for God and love for our fellow man. Everything I write on the subject of faith in real world settings such as workplace, community, church and family can be traced back to love for God or love for fellow man. Therefore, it seems like the right place to start with my first real article.

Today and for the next several articles, I want to focus on Jesus’ instructions for us to love our neighbors as much as we love ourselves. In the story of the Good Samaritan, Jesus defines our “neighbor” as anyone who needs our help regardless the barriers that may exist between us. My neighbor may live on my block or half the world away. My neighbor may work in the cubicle next to me or for my competitor in India. My neighbor may sit in the church pew next to me or he may kneel in prayer towards Mecca from his room in Jerusalem. My neighbor is quite simply my fellow man in need. What did Jesus mean when he said for us to “love” our neighbor? Since the New Testament containing Jesus’ words was written in the common Greek language, it is helpful to look into the actual word Jesus used. Our English language translates several Greek words in the one word, “love” and the Greek word Jesus used was agapé. Agapé love is the kind of love that motivates me to seek out the best interest of someone else. In the Good Samaritan story, the compassionate Samaritan seeks after the wounded traveler’s best interest and so he cares for the traveler’s wounds and provides for shelter until he has recovered. You might say the Good Samaritan had the traveler’s back when no one else did.

I believe when Jesus tells us to love our neighbor he is telling us to have each others’ back. We all know what it means to “have someone’s back.” If you have my back, you are looking out for me. You are making sure my best interests are served. I am blessed to have many people in my life that have my back and are looking after me. So much of what we are going to explore together boils down to simply looking after other folks’ best interests as much as we look after our own best interests. We show agapé love for our neighbor when we help a stranded driver change a tire, give to the United Way, help a new employee learn the ropes, wash the dishes for a tired spouse even when we are tired ourselves, visit a sick brother or sister in the hospital or attend a funeral to comfort a grieving family in our church. We know what it feels like when someone has our back. Jesus tells us, Have your brother’s back!

This week, let’s go out of our way to have each others’ backs at work, at home, at church and out there in the community. Jesus said loving each other is the same as loving God. You can’t really love one without loving the other. Next week, I’m going to introduce you to a company that practices love in the workplace in a very profound and effective way. Check back next Monday to learn their secret. Until then,

Meet me at the intersection!



  1. Thank you. I learned something.

  2. Great post, Mike. Thank you!

  3. Great start to Intersections, Mike! I look forward to reading regularly.

    The famous theologian, Terrell Owens once said “I love me some me!” T.O. simply said publicly what is privately true of all of us. Although mostly blind to the subtlety of my self-love, I nevertheless confess that I love myself with an “agape” love – with very little effort. It comes naturally.

    In this light, Jesus’ command to “love your neighbor as yourself” is a call for me (and you) to love others as much as, and IN THE SAME WAY that I love myself. Radical stuff. Frankly, it sounds like crazy talk some days, but I need to hear (and re-hear) it.

    Thanks for the reminder.

    • Thanks for the response, Jeff. I appreciate the expansion of my post and your insightful thoughts. This is the kind of dialog I hope to develop through these posts. Thanks for getting us off to a good start!

  4. Mike,
    I got your back!

  5. Well, Son, you have found another way to serve and at the same time introduce your Mother to this new world. Over the years you have taught me much and I eagerly anticipate reading your thoughts about God and life. I pray the courage that you have exhibited in leading a company with Christ like principles will be emulated by others who might have such an opportunity. Your Dad and I always have your back with much love

  6. How Inspirational!!! I love your posting, You have always been a great brother in law. I have been and still going tihrough a very difficutlt time. Any encouragement helps. I know gods will, will over come any tragedy. God has a plan for all of us, as long we walk with him. Thanks for your hard work and effort, please continue you with all of your knowledge. Please pray for me and my beautiful boys to your prays…love ya

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