“‘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.'” Matthew 22:37-39
We’ve heard this passage recounted countless times. It sounds simple but we all know that both loving God and loving our neighbors can be challenging. Matter of fact, loving ourselves can be challenging too.
Let’s start with the simple part first. When you’re a kid love is pretty simple: you love everything almost (except broccoli). Somehow as we go through life and get our hearts broken we stop believing in simple love. Even our parents, it seems, fail us at times. But if we take the time to remember back to being kids we can remember how easy it was for us to fall for our first crush, love mac-n-cheese, and simply trust and openly love our parent(s). If we want love to be simple as adults it starts with remembering love as we knew and believed when we were kids.
The challenging parts are that none of us humans are perfect, and while God is perfect and can’t fail, He isn’t right here to answer us in the way I might answer you either in person or via the internet. Instead we’re left to struggle with our self-doubt, fears, loneliness, worries and losses when things don’t work out like we hoped.
As I was considering all that this week I ran across a verse that changed my perspective on the first part of that passage: the loving God part. Deuteronomy 7:12 says:
“If you listen to these laws, and if you are careful to obey them, the Lord your God will keep his agreement of love with you.”
What’s this agreement of love? It’s God’s promise to love us for who we are, at any time, any place and for as long as we’ll accept that love. He’ll love us beyond our faults and failings, from the lowest lows to highest highs. Yes, He always hopes we’ll live up to the sky-high hopes He has for us, but His love is unconditional.
Know as you begin this week and celebrate love, that whatever else happens God will not let you down for loving Him. He’s agreed to love you for who you are.