The act of love is not convenient by any means. It requires sacrifice in times of suffering and patience to endure our struggles. A love with the aim of pleasing oneself will soon fade away to nothing. To love another above yourself is the very love Jesus Christ portrayed over two thousand years ago when he sacrificed Himself for the benefit of humanity.
What manner of love would give way to such a sacrifice? Christianity is a worldview in which a deity took up in a very personal way the suffering of humanity. Some people believe that penance through actions is a way to earn our way to a better life. My own actions are not an attempt to earn my way because I don’t believe that we can. Any act of love portrayed through me is because God first loved me. My desire is only to be useful in His hands. I believe that Jesus is the way. Not because my parents believe it, nor because of my blind acceptance of the unknown. Years of study and personal observation have led me to this conclusion. Any good that comes out of my life is from Christ living within me. When you see me fail, it is because my will was done, not His.
Jesus knows us better than we know ourselves. He sees the flawed ways in which we secretly hide our sins from others. But ultimately no sin is hidden from God, who knows our innermost being, the one many of us would be ashamed to reveal to others. Jesus warned us that if we even conceived something in our heart it is the same as if we had already gone through with it. It’s like he knows the outcome of our actions before they ever happen.
History is filled with tyranny and injustices committed against human beings. At the very core of some of these atrocities is the wickedness of the human heart. When a person at any moment devalues a human life, they are violating something which is sacred, beyond human comprehension – pure love.
Much of humanity’s love is impure and stems from selfish reasons. We love another because of what they do for us or how they make us feel. Its transactional love and when the transactions cease, then so does the love. Like the picture above, when a strong enough wave comes, the love washes away, leaving no trace that love was even there.
If we are honest with ourselves, most of us get stuck in a rut. On one side, we love those who care for us. On the other side, is loving those who do not or cannot love us back. For me, I’m at a place in life where I still try to refrain from praying down fire from the heavens to consume my enemies, similar to two of the disciples at the end of Luke 9 in the New Testament. All kidding aside, God is always working on me, chiseling down the edges and smoothing out the rough spots. When I look at the spec in others’ eyes, he reveals to me the log that is in my own.
The process is unwelcome because it is often painful. But I’ve come to believe it is because God sees a better version of me, the one that reminds Him of His son Jesus. When my actions are in line with His, His love becomes my love because my love is transformed. It now goes beyond exclusivity for those good to me. Christ’s love compels me to extend beyond my comfort zone and a personal world that revolves around me. We are instructed to love each other. In doing so, we must take whatever list of restrictions we have for who we will love and throw them out the window; preferably into a recycling container or at least a trash can. A new earth may be coming but let’s not destroy this one in the mean time. Let’s not limit loving our neighbor to the person next door. Let it be anyone around you. Regardless of what color their skin is, what they are wearing, what their beliefs are… love them. Sometimes a kind word is all that is needed to brighten a person’s day. Sometimes words are not enough and further action is required to demonstrate love. But by all means, find a way to genuinely love somebody today. Make a decision to love them and then take appropriate action to show it.