“Jesus replied: ‘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 it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.'” -Matthew 22: 37-40
What does love mean? What does it mean to love your neighbor?
God’s love and the love He shares is ‘agape’ love. There is no one adjective to describe it. Love encompasses so much and expresses itself in many ways: Brotherly love. Charity. The love of God for man and of man for God. Going out of our way to help someone. Trusting. Being patient. Respecting others. Being genuinely happy for someone. Encouraging someone when they need it. Accepting someone for who they are. Showing affection and kindness through actions and words. Being mindful of how someone feels. Willing to sacrifice yourself for someone. Unconditional forgiveness and kindness. Passion.
God’s greatest commandment is to love. How can we? What standard do we have to look at? With all the types of families out there and people, different sizes, some married, some single, some childless, some with young ones, some same-sex, some having to take care of aging parents, we can’t look to one for an example.
God gave us the family. Though varied and diverse, it always leads back to love and commitment. If a child is misbehaving, the parent will discipline them, to learn and grow, out of love. The family is always there for one another, no matter what happens.
There is a lot of sacrifice and adaptation in the family life. Because family never stays the same. But no matter what the love and togetherness is there. We do things out of love to better our family members, keep them safe, follow the law, etc..
One thing that we have a hard time doing is loving someone as they are. We may love the things they give, the facts about them, the money they have, etc… Facts such as type of sex, height, their career, their hobbies. But do we love them beyond all that? Beyond all their labels and facts, we need to love their core.
Like a family, the church sets guidelines and traditions to keep us better in line with the faith and stay close to God. There is a good amount of news right now about churches debating on this topic of love and marriage and opening the doors to same sex couples. I believe we should remember the first and second commandments and follow love. Because God is love. So this means to love everyone, to open the church to everyone, to embrace diversity. Love should be the core of our lives and the church, and in all of our actions in the world.
How would you describe love? How do you love your neighbor? Today, may you think about some ways you can better love the people around you.