I saw this on pinterest, and it links to a tumblr page, so I’m not sure the original source, but it’s actually how I’d like to begin this New Year. I think a lot about love, and what it means to love, and I guess, if you’re an atheist or don’t follow a religion, that really isn’t a code that says you have to love at all. This isn’t to say that you don’t personally believe you should, just that there isn’t a greater being telling you it’s required. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to love people just because it’s required. It’s something that I really believe in. Love is the only thing that I think can actually make a difference in the world. So often we just pick a few people that we can tolerate or that we’re born to love, and just focus on them. We may not even continue it past them offending us in some way or another. That’s not what this is about. This is not about sticking by people even when they are abusive or bad for you or repeatedly hurt you. Yes, forgiveness is not a good idea, but so is getting far away from the situation.
I’m meaning… loving people on a more universal score. As a Christian, I’ll write this from what I know. Jesus didn’t look down from Heaven and say, “Well God, that guy over there, he smells funny, or that woman, see her…. she’s abusing the welfare system, she should really get a job and stop popping out children that the system will have to pay for, or that guy is a murderer, or that child is sort of an ugly child… I’m not going to die for those guys. I’m just going to die for the ones that make me feel happy and look pretty and bath and don’t irritate me”.
Jesus died for everyone.
To refer to the obvious “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son”; God isn’t leaving out the ugly children.
For a long time, I thought it was enough to just live my life and give a bit of money or food at Christmas, and in general be kind to people, but not too kind because that’s not required, and may be deemed creepy, plus who doesn’t have a bad day, I’m only human, so when that customer is really annoying, I’ll unleash all my wrath on them…. but I think that’s not enough. Please keep in mind, these are my personal musings, what you feel you have to do may be very different from what I feel for me personally, I can’t know what the right thing is for you.
Furthermore, I never really thought “charity” was entirely required by God, just sort of, something to do like not smoking, but the more I read looking for what the Bible says about love… I realize how much God does ask us to look after others and more than that, to love others.
1 John 3:16, 17
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?” Yikes.
“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children, and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us”
And seriously, I’m not even giving you a tiny fraction of all the scriptures that tell us to love; I can if you want.
My favourite passage right now though is 1 John 4:16, 18-19.
“God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him… There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear…we love because he first loved us”.
First off, God is love. I always find that so re-assuring and beautiful, and I cling to that.
I also didn’t really understand “There is no fear in love” until I read the quotation I included at the top of this very long blog post; “our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy”. We have all kinds of excuses to get us out of loving people, but in my case, the reality just is, I’m afraid. I’m afraid of helping someone who will just take advantage of it. I’m afraid of caring too much and getting hurt. I’m afraid of people thinking I’m stupid or silly or naive. When we love with God’s love… there isn’t fear. His love is perfect. He loves even knowing all our flaws, He loves because He can see into our hearts and observe the goodness, but even if He sees only nastiness, HE STILL LOVES US. I can’t even really fathom that, but I know what I feel inside me. That love is the way to go, and I am so far from being there yet, but I want 2015 to be a year where I learn to not be afraid to love. I want to show compassion and genuine good will to anyone I meet, not just the people that love me. If you have suggestions for how to get there, I’m all ears, but this is my start.