March 7, 2012
You have to use some of your energy loving those who are going to love you back. There is no doubt that God calls us to love the poor, the hungry, the sick. God gives us plenty of opportunity to do so, if we allow ourselves to see it. But Jesus also said, “the poor will always be with you”. When Jesus said this he was making the point that we have to spend some of our time in relationship with him. And we certainly need to do that. Another aspect of living balanced, healthy lives is loving those who love us back.
People who have not experienced healthy, nurturing love have a very hard time understanding and accepting God’s love. Not only that, but God gives us humans so that we can experience God’s love. Humans are both a vehicle and a tool for God’s love. Humans are a tool God uses to teach us about love: what it feels like, how to trust, how to forgive. Humans are also a vehicle God uses to transport his love to us. We feel God’s love both because of and through other people.
This happens in many ways, just as there are many facets of God’s love. When Jesus teaches us to “love our neighbor as we love ourselves”, we too closely relate it to the story of the Good Samaritan. It is not intended to be a story about the only way to love but rather how broad the definition of neighbor is supposed to be. If we are supposed to love others AS ourselves, there are many, many ways in which in which we actually do love ourselves, and in which we want to be loved. It goes beyond charity and kindness. We also yearn to be loved with adoration, with passion, with fascination, with joy.
Serving is great. But if all we do is serve and serve and serve, we are missing out on so many wonderful aspects of what God created love to be. The Greeks had four words for love, each describing a different type. I suspect there could be many more, but nonetheless humans need a rich diversity of love experiences and opportunities. Loving those who love us back should be an important part of that. We need to feel ourselves filled with connection and loyalty and commitment and sacrifice – only those things that we get from those who love us back. We need to be sure too that we are giving all those things, so that we are serving those that we need as well.