Love Who? What? Why?
Whether you believe in Christ or not most of us heard the following verses at some point in our lives: [Matt 22:37] “love God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength” along with [Mark 12:31] “love thy neighbor.” I’m going to be honest with you, for much of my life I could not fathom putting all this into play. It seemed like such a farfetched idea, I thought Jesus was asking for the impossible. How in the world can I love someone I don’t know? How can I love a God that cannot see but fear? How can I love people who are rude, mean or nasty? What if I don’t like my neighbor or vice versa? This all seems like a very nice idea, the whole heal the world, “Kumbaya” thing but seriously? How? I can be kind but most of us find it difficult to maintain kindness after our patience has been tested. So loving someone after they’ve annoyed you is asking for a lot.
I want to love God and I’m glad that he loves me but I didn’t know how to execute what Jesus is asking of us. How do you love God? How does one love a neighbor when you have no feelings for them?
Loving is Like Hard Work
Loving seems like hard work because we were disillusioned about it. Don’t believe me? Look around at the divorce rates, broken homes and broken hearts. Obviously a lot of us are doing it wrong. I’m no pastor but I think I’m finally beginning to understand how to love. I’ll share with you what I’ve conceptualized thus far and the things I’ve began to put into action.
Try to love more like God does.
- A popular suggestion. Put God first. Yes in everything but what does that even mean you ask? Well, look to Him for help before you ask anyone else. Even before you try to figure it out on your own, wait for Him. If you are anything like me, you may not want to ask God for things because you’ll assume the answer will be “no”. Well the truth is if we aren’t living in the will He has for us and others, be prepared to hear “no”, not right now or something along those lines. However, that may mean you have some personal work to do but your life benefits from those improvements. After awhile you may hear a lot more yes’s.
- Allow God to comfort you, love you, counsel you and take care of you before you seek these things from others. I use the term allow because God needs your permission to be a part of your life. He will not force Himself on you because He gifted us with free-will.
- To love is to serve. Become His servant and do the tasks He asks of you. Love is to be reciprocated, it shouldn’t always be about what we want. We are living in a narcissistic age but don’t be fooled. Constantly looking at our own reflection, being selfish and self-centered will come back to haunt the offender as these are forms of self-idolatry.
- Administer self-care. Self-care is not selfish. If you are to love your neighbor as yourself, but you don’t take care of yourself no one benefits. Give your neighbor and yourself the same empathy and compassion.
- Remember God has feelings too, we are a lot like Him because He is our spiritual Father, we are His mini-gods. His laws are laws of love to protect us from the evil one. And though your flesh may want to give into unhealthy desires God calls us to do otherwise because to avoid falling into traps. We know addiction to Cocaine will ultimately lead to death but so can being addicted to anything really like lust, money, etc. God, not religion is the only obsession where sorrow isn’t added. His laws save us from sorrow, they seem like a bore but they really are life jackets with built in parachutes. Hence, loving God is obeying his laws which ultimately shows that you love yourself. Doing otherwise is equal to shunning God.
- God will chase you, be patient with you and wait on you to accept Him before He lets you have your way. And when your willing to truly let Him in your heart He will rejoice because it’s as if you returned home after being lost. He wants to live in your temple (your body) but He cannot live in an unclean space. Finally, God will not stay where He is not wanted. Would you? If someone you love keeps rejecting, neglecting or abusing you there comes a time when you have to let them go. If they want you, they’ll seek you. It’s ultimately your choice to let Him love you and to reciprocate that love.
- It takes a conscious effort. Love is proactive and unselfish. Instead of waiting for others to love you, make the first move.
- Love is an action and has nothing to do with your feelings. Therefore you can love a stranger and an enemy by the way you behave toward them. You may not be pleased with a coworker, relative or a neighbor but you treat them well and do no harm regardless of how you may feel. That is love. Since we are aware that emotions are fleeting we choose to love regardless of them. Hurting someone out of anger only to feel guilty after you find understanding, empathy and compassion for the person gives birth to shame.
- Love begets love. The goal should never be to get anything out of someone, trust that the love you give will eventually find its way back to you in one form or another. While your busy loving people, God is busy loving you. All your good deeds are returned to you and stored in your own personal treasure chest for the Day of Judgement. We’ll all die one day and you’ll want to have some awesome things on your spiritual resume.
- To love you’ll need strength, grace and mercy. Pray constantly for those things to be added to you because it does not come easily for many people.
- Though loving God and your neighbors may feel unnatural at first, with practice you’ll grow to enjoy it. Pray for God to renew you with a clean and pure heart and to be more like Him.
- Know that it takes time. Be patient. After all love is patient, love is kind and God is love.
Thanks for reading.