The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
Across the board this idea of loving your neighbor is something widely accepted by nearly every religion, people group, and culture. This simple, yet intriguing idea must be pretty important for it to span across denominational borders and religious boundaries.
Loving somebody as you would yourself is a game changing idea; it is to say that I will take what resources, time, and energy I have and put it towards loving my neighbor as I would myself. It means encouraging my friends as I would myself. It means taking buddies out for food on my college budget because that’s the way I love to be loved. It also might mean listening to somebody rant about the smallest and most disengaging topics of conversation; this particular action of love is especially relevant to me as I tend to release my innermost struggles and topics of tension to my closest friends.
Furthermore, loving my neighbor as myself means that I will love others as they need to be loved. This implicitly means that I will choose to love them even when I get no benefit from doing so in the first place.
The more I talk about love the less emotional I get; why? It’s because love ultimately becomes a decision. Love is choice and I consider it a massive joy to be able to have the autonomy to choose to love my neighbors and even my enemies.
This decision of love is something life changing; it is a radical concept to grasp because it is so unlike the normal standards of human interaction. Much of the world bases its human interaction on self-preservation, self-interest, and selfish ambition. One of the worst parts is that the church today has embraced these same values. I think our church painfully lacks radical love for one another in its infrastructure.
There have been countless times where I have spent months and years trying to love this existential God that so changed my life-and rightfully so! I saw God as the Savior of my life; I still see God in this same light today.
However, in those years of pursuit of Christ and his character I can point out gaps of time where I spent time praying prayers of zeal and kingdom come, many moments of powerful worship and adoration, and weeks where I felt like I was growing in my understanding of God’s character. Yet, if I am honest, there were plenty of moments where my love of God never translated into a love for my brethren in Christ. It wasn’t that I was damaging others with words of discouragement or walking in a path of disdain for others; it was more of what I wasn’t doing that let me know something was wrong.
A love for God is honoring and glorifying to our Father in Heaven; in that, to love God is to also love others-well, intentionally, and purposefully. Love is an active ingredient that pursues others; love brings people into your own story in a natural and life giving way.
Loving others will mean loving my neighbor as myself. It most definitely means loving others the way they need to be loved without any benefit to me in sight.