If you are a Christian I am sure you have heard that Jesus summarized the core foundation of what God wants us to know when he answered a question from a teacher of the law:
One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:28-31)
We are bombarded every day with choices. We have to choose what to wear, what to eat, how to spend our time, who we interact with, what we say, what we accomplish….and the list goes on. In those choices we actually are making many choices we never even realize. When we choose what to wear we are also answering questions about how you feel about yourself, how you want to be seen by others, how comfortable you want to be, if comfort or style is more important, whether you are willing to do extra work to wash or iron something, etc.
Ultimately we are also making a choice about love. As a Christian love should be the foundation of everything we do. Loving God should affect every decision and thought we have. We need to change our thinking to realize that when we doubt his care, we are not accepting his love. When we are anxious we are loving his promises that we do not need to fear, be anxious, or live without courage because he told us he will provide. We also are told to love our neighbor. We need to change our thinking so that we see our neighbor as worthy of love, needing love, and someone we have compassion and care for.
Choosing love has been something I have struggled to learn. I have lived wanting to love God, but not feeling like I knew how. I have wanted to love my neighbor but having to overcome fear, insecurities, doubts, frustrations, weariness, cultural boundaries, resistance from others, perceptions, attitudes, etc. Then as I would stumble and fail from the standard I wanted to live up to I would get frustrated and feel like I could never succeed at even these simple tasks.
I have learned that choosing love is not about my actions. I had always tried to “do” love. If I could just follow through with certain behaviors so that I lived in obedience to God’s word then I would be right. Rather than performing and “doing” I am learning that choosing love is about being open, still, waiting, receiving, and sharing. Instead of grasping at and working to love better I needed to stop, focus on being in relationship with Christ, and as my relationship with him grew my heart was filled and love was easy. Choosing love doesn’t start with me, it starts with Christ. Choosing love is about living with God in such a way that he loves through me. It is about letting go of me and letting him.
I am learning to let him love me, so that I can love him with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, and so that I can walk with others to love them in ways that show Christ to them so they too can learn to accept his love. Then the cycle starts over in their life and the family grows.
Love…..what an amazing gift!