Happy Valentine’s Day! I thought it would be fitting to spend some time today thinking and talking about love. After all, today is the holiday for love. But I don’t want to talk about romantic love today. You’ll be bombarded with that all day as it is. Today I want to talk about brotherhood, about love in the universal sense.
I’m not necessarily speaking politically here. We all struggle with feelings of love, and with feelings of hate. We can look across the globe, or as near as our neighborhood to know that love can be a hard thing to come by these days. But why is that?
It’s important for me to note here that I’m not writing this post to educate anyone on something I’ve already learned, as if I’ve got this all figured out. Far from it. This might be one of the most difficult challenges I face everyday, and one I’ll struggle with until my final days. In fact, it is because of that struggle that I want to write today. Perhaps I am not the only one struggling with this.
I also don’t want to throw my Bible at you, and get all preachy with you. I know that some of you might not come at this from the same viewpoint that I do. But bear with me, because I do want to share my faith with you a little bit, concerning this topic. Please keep an open mind with respect to this then, and know that should you disagree in the end, I can completely respect that, and appreciate it.
So why the love talk? I mean, besides the holiday and all? Well, here’s why. There have been too many days lately where I’ve felt frustrated and helpless about what’s going on around me. Too often I believe that my words won’t matter, and that I cannot make a difference. These doubts discourage me, and sometimes lead me to silence. But then I remember a favorite quote by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter”. And so even if no one reads these words, even if no one considers them, appreciates them, or agrees with them, they are words worth speaking, and I wish no longer to be silent. It might change the hearts and minds of no one around me. Except me.
We all have our ways to seek out wisdom and truth. Some look inward through meditation. Some read the works of scholars. Others initiate debate and discussion. I go to the Bible. And the Bible is very clear on matters of love. In fact, in the gospel of Matthew, Jesus said that the two most important commandments were as follows: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40)
It is worth noting here that the Quran speaks similarly (“None of you have faith until you love for your neighbor what you love for yourself”), as does the Torah (“Love your neighbor as yourself” Leviticus 19:18) This is not an idea exclusive to the Christian Bible.
We are called to love others. We are called to love our neighbors. But who are our neighbors? This is a tough question, especially in today’s unsafe world, a world that has grown smaller with the advancement of technology, but one that has also grown more uncertain and troubling with every war and every act of terrorism. Who are we supposed to love, and what does that love even look like?
Like I said, I don’t know that I have the answer. Or at least the correct one. But I do know that for me, loving my neighbor means loving across oceans. It means stepping outside the comfort of my own home and my own community, and reaching out to those communities that don’t look like mine, extending a hand as far as it will reach, to whoever is on the other side, and no matter whether or not it is received or reciprocated.
And what about how to love? What does love look like? Maybe that’s something different for each of us. Maybe we have resources to give. Maybe we have time to offer. Or maybe just our presence and literally our outstretched arms. But we are told to love others as we love ourselves. So maybe it’s time we look at how we love ourselves, and then offer that outwardly.
I know this makes me sound naive, and I’m ok with that. Jesus also tells us that “unless you change, and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3) So call me naive. Call me foolish. Call me wrong. That’s all ok. You may be right! I’m not claiming to hold the final say in all of this. But I am offering my take on it, and asking you to considering sharing your’s.
I hope though, that this doesn’t make me sound arrogant or judgemental. Like I said, these words are very much for me too. It’s easy to talk the talk. I’m challenging myself, and anyone who wants to join me, to start walking the walk, too.
Let’s enjoy today. Let’s pour love out onto the special people in our lives. Let’s think about how amazing it feels to be loved. Then let’s take that love, and consider offering it to others we hadn’t considered loving before.