I know that I talk about love a lot! It is, in my mind, the center of the life of discipleship, that is, the life of following Jesus. The Great Commandment to love God and love neighbor is the core of my belief, the lens through which I read scripture, and I sincerely hope the goal of my life.
This morning, as a part of my morning devotional reading, I opened an email by Richard Rohr, a Jesuit priest and author whom I follow. This week he’s writing about unity and diversity, and in the midst of a devotion on love drawing us together, he writes the following:
When we are truly “in love,” we move out of our small, individual selves to unite with another, whether in companionship, friendship, marriage, or any other trustful relationship. Have you ever deliberately befriended a person standing alone at a party? Perhaps someone who was in no way attractive to you or with whom you shared no common interests? That would be a small but real example of divine love flowing. Don’t dismiss it as insignificant. That is how the flow starts, even if the encounter doesn’t change anyone’s life on the spot. To move beyond our small-minded uniformity, we have to extend ourselves outward, which our egos always find a threat, because it means giving up our separation, superiority, and control.
I highlight the phrase above about not dismissing these acts as insignificant because I fear that sometimes in the church we focus so much on the big sacrifices that we fail to acknowledge that the most simple gestures can be amazing and fulfilling gestures of love. What Rohr reminds us of is that love simply requires us to extend ourselves outward. Reaching out may or may not lead to great transformation, but that’s not our calling. We are simply called to love — quietly, simply, without pretense or expectation of the other. To only offer love with the expectation of something happening is not real love, but rather is a transactional relationship (I’ll give you mine if you give me yours). Agape (the love demonstrated by Jesus) always understands that love is given freely regardless of the willingness of the recipient to receive it.
How are you expressing God’s love today and throughout the whole of your life?