Only the opening act

Love the Lord your God … Love your neighbour as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these. Mark 12:30-31

I find it fascinating how so much of the language people use to explore Christian spirituality is the language of sorrow for our sins. While this is a central element of Christian tradition, I would suggest that such contrition as only the opening act of a fully embraced life of spiritual wisdom.

Contrition merely sets the stage for the true work of our Christian path – love for God and love for others.

It opens our heart to be emptied when we pray creating the space where longing and compassion could flow through us – a longing for God from whom all love originates and a love for others who are starving for God.

This got me thinking: what do we all have in common? The answer came quickly: each one of us was hungry for love.

Love is both the sweetest and the saddest of human experiences

The desire to be loved is one thing that separates human beings from the rest of creation. We’re deeply emotional and deeply social human beings. By the Creator’s wise design, we weren’t structured to be alone.

We were created to be connected, to be dependent, to be communicative, and to be together. We were designed to give and receive a whole variety of love: family love, marital love, brotherly love, parental love, community love, body of Christ love, friendship love, neighbourly love, and more. Love is the foundation of humanity.

But for many, they are walking around with bruised and broken hearts. They had experienced love, but in a broken form.

There are many who had never found true love, and others who fled from a love gone wrong. Some experienced a love that died, while others still lived in a dysfunctional love but didn’t know how to fix it.

Some told themselves they didn’t need to be loved, but in their quiet moments, they didn’t believe it. Others so badly bruised by love that they would never open their hearts to it again. And there were still more who would do just about anything to hear someone say to them, “I love you.”

But whether we recognize it or not, even if we experienced human love in perfection and to the fullest, our hunger for love would still exist.

The problem with human love isn’t just that human love is broken. We know it is – we’ve been on both the giving and receiving end of broken love. More significantly, human love is horizontal – in other words, given between people – yet, human love was never designed to give the human heart the peace, satisfaction, and rest that it craves.

Though human love will never satisfy our hunger, it has a very significant role to play in the ultimate contentment that we seek. Human love was designed by God to be a signpost that points us to the one love that has the power to give our heart the satisfaction it longs for.

So, if we were designed to hunger for love, but human love is broken and unable to satisfy our souls, what’s the solution? The answer is God’s love to us.

This sacrifice of love is best pictured and summarized by Jesus in one moment on the Cross, an unthinkable moment when the Father turns his back on his son. Jesus, in the horrible pain of utter loneliness, now rejected both by people and by God, cries out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Here’s what we need to remember: Jesus was willing to be utterly alone so that we would never be alone again. That’s how much he loved us.

The most loving thing we can do for others is love God more than we love them. For if we love God most, we will love others best.

This kind of love—for God and for others—does not come naturally to us.

The reality is that we cannot do that apart from the help, the power or the ministry of the Holy Spirit. We need divine help on a daily basis. Jesus provided the direction for us to love in Mark 12:30,31 “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 neighbour as yourself.’  There is no commandment greater than these.”

Loving people can do more than minister to those who already know Christ; it can draw nonbelievers to Him. When we have good relationships, we can be God’s instruments in helping others follow Christ. When we have poor relationships, we become stumbling blocks.

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