I began this series of devotionals with these questions: If we have an ounce of love for “other” in us, or if one single human being on this planet loves us - this is the million dollar question. What do the people we love NEED? What do we NEED? How can we help? Who can help us?
EVENTUALLY I got around to whipping out this series of verses:
34 When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had left the Sadducees speechless, they met together. 35 One of them, a legal expert, tested him. 36 “Teacher, what is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 He replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: You must love your neighbor as you love yourself. 40 All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”
~ Matthew 22:34-40 CEB
Today, let’s break it down. When it comes to being a person whose presence matters AND a person who lives life with the quiet joy of satisfaction because life has meaning and purpose, there is no greater (albeit commonly repeated) passage of scripture than the one above. Along the way, like Pete, we will have ups and downs and trials and tribulations, even some victories along the way as we both give and receive love.
Previous devotionals made a case for presence, specifically compassionate presence, as a key ingredient to this way of living. But don’t we have PLENTY of examples of big fails in this area? I do!
So what gives? What needs to change? Haven’t we all attempted to improve our capacity to love and be loved? I bet so. Tomorrow we pray for our collective loving selves, next week, we get into the nitty gritty details of loving well.
For today, think about the reality that we love in three arenas here on planet earth: 1. The way we love ourselves (if that freaks you out, substitute the word “respect”), 2. The way we love those closest to us (our most intimate connections) and 3. The way we love our communities (work/faith group/family/friends/common interest groups/neighbors).
Obviously, the Matthew passage tells us that it all starts with loving God. It even tells us how: we are to love God wholeheartedly - i.e., with our entire being. Wholehearted loving makes it possible, even likely, that we will notice opportunities to love that will be overlooked by the casual lover. Like the two friends who knew to contact Pete with condolences after UVA’s first round loss in the NCAA’s. This is our love source.
This is the source for the help we need to figure out how to love. More on that in two days...tomorrow, as promised we pray for one another!