In a previous blog, I focused on the importance of learning to work well. In addition to this, another basic purpose of humanity is learning to love well.
There is a common recognition of the importance of growing in love that we share with all people, for it is arguably the highest good. The Bible tells us “God is love” (1 John 4:8) and His love compels us to love Him and likewise to love one another. In fact God makes it clear that, “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
Learning to love may indeed be our primary purpose, for in so doing we glorify God and grow into the image of His Son who showed us what love really is.
“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)
And this is what Christ did for us.
When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment is, He said without hesitation, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39; Deut. 6:5; Lev. 19:18).
So, it seems clear that loving our neighbor ought to flow from, and be empowered by, our love for God. The two are that closely connected.
Learning to love our neighbor is increasingly becoming a challenge as political and moral differences are often sharp and divisive. Many long-held cultural and moral fences are being torn down; the world is rapidly changing. In the past 50 years, prayer has been taken out of public schools, abortion was legalized and Sunday has become just another day. In addition, it’s now common for unmarried couples to live together and gay couples to get married. Euthanasia is now legal in many places, and marijuana will likely be legalized nationwide soon.
Regardless of where we stand on such issues, love for our neighbor, whoever they are and whatever they believe, must transcend our differences.
Learning to love, first God and then our neighbors, is what much of life is all about. Life and questions about God become so much easier to grasp once this truth is embraced.
Some are blessed with romantic love and a mate, which demands a deeper dimension of love, involving sacrifice, faithfulness, patience, forgiveness, service, availability and adaptability, to name a few. But even without a special loved one, each of us may grow in these areas through our relationships with family, friends, coworkers, neighbors and fellow Christians at church. God brings people into our lives whom we can bless and from whom we can receive blessings.
Learning to love others well begins with the proper understanding that we love people, but use things, which unfortunately, in practice, some reverse to loving things and using people.
In this affluent society, even children quickly become accustomed to “cool” things such as fast computers, the latest smart phones, high definition TVs, luxury cars and fashionable clothing. And, it is very easy to become so attached to such nice things that we sacrifice for and adapt to have the best, rather than sacrificing for and adapting to help people in need. So, this vital lesson of loving people above things must be learned at a young age.
As God’s image bearers, we reflect many of His characteristics such as creating for beauty, reasoning and communicating on a high level and connecting with Him through prayer. But surely our primary and most distinctive God-like characteristic is love.
What is amazing is that we have within us the ability to soar in love, to love as God loves. Loving those who love us is of course easy, but we are capable of loving even those who cannot love us back – even those who seem to be unlovable, like our enemies.
Jesus commanded us to do this very thing (Luke 6:27-36) and, as His disciples, to be known for our love (John 13:35). As we progress in love, we are growing more and more into the image of Christ, our ultimate goal (Romans 8:29).
So, let’s learn to love well. Let’s soar!
Grand Canyon University’s College of Theology offers a deeply focused theological education, founded on the conviction that the Bible is the inspired, infallible and authoritative Word of God. For more information about a GCU education, get in touch with us today.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University.