Sunday, September 28, 2014

Learn to love our neighbor: The most basic forms of love

As Christians, we're on a mission to join God in loving the world. So when we talk to someone or meet someone, where do we start? What are the most basic starting points for building love? Here are a few:

  • Noticing someone: If we look past someone without seeing them, without recognizing their importance, we have not loved them. If we recognize another person, notice them, consider their worth, then that is a simple form of love. So even taking time to acknowledge someone is a form of love. Jesus may have been pointing this out to us when he reminded us to greet other people, and not just those who love us in return.
  • Recognizing the good in someone: If someone has made an effort, developed a skill, or has a natural gift, it is worth recognizing. When Paul tells us, "If there is anything worthy of praise, think on these things," we might also think enough to mention it to the person who inspires us. It may be just an extension of what Paul wrote on love, and thinking on these things may develop an eye for kindling love.
  • Recognizing ourselves in the other person: Any two people have something in common. We all share our humanity. If the foundation of love is loving others as ourselves, and the foundation of mercy is treating others as we want to be treated ourselves, and the foundation of justice is likewise built on the idea that we are all alike and should be treated alike, then it follows that one of the keys to understanding, to all of love and justice and mercy, is to recognize ourselves in the other person, and them in us.
  • Understanding: There are few gifts that touch us as much as when someone else understands us. It may be that they take the time to listen to our life story, or take the time to ask how we are and actually listen to the answer. It is the first way in which we fulfill the command to share each others' burdens.
  • Warmth: There is a simple hospitality of spirit that Jesus demonstrated to us, something that drew people and made them feel welcome, and at home, simply to be in his presence. In every home that feels like home, there is a warmth and an acceptance that is the heart of that home. We take that spirit into the world with us. 

If you all were to leave comments helping me figure out what else I could add to the list, I'd be grateful.

Take care & God bless


Martin LaBar said...

If we love someone, we want the best for them, in some cases even if it costs us. Good post.

Anna Ilona Mussmann said...

As someone who can be (and feel) awkward among unfamiliar people, I appreciate it when others are patient with those of us who are not easily or naturally outgoing, instead of just assuming that me must not want to be friendly. The people who make repeated efforts to talk to and include the shy folks are awesome. It is especially helpful when they manage to find topics of conversation that the shy people like to talk about.

Kevin Knox said...

I'll contribute: Accept a favor from a neighbor. It's a powerful thing to allow yourself to become indebted to someone.

Weekend Fisher said...

Wow what good insights. Thank you all.

Martin: Absolutely true.

A.I.M: That's an interesting angle to pursue. It might be a loving thing to develop a collection of ice-breakers.

Kevin: Ooh that's a weak point of mine, allowing myself to receive help. I needed to hear that. Thank you.

Take care & God bless
Anne / WF