“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” –Mark 12:30-31
The never-ending news cycle is overwhelming. An endless loop of unimaginable violence, from school shootings to sexual assaults, prohibits me from listening while my small children are nearby. Otherwise I’ll be asked to define words they shouldn’t yet know, betraying the promise of their innocence much too early.
When I do listen, I hear the same rhythm of words: the wall, homeland security, Russia, the wall, immigration reform, Dreamers, the wall, government shutdown, North Korea, the wall.
It is the wall, even its simplest form, that breaks me.
When we turn our backs on innocent children fleeing their country just to stay alive, when use the words “refugee” and “immigrant” or “Muslim” and “terrorist” interchangeably, when we teach our children that it’s okay to be selective in which neighbors we choose to love as God commands, we have failed to LOVE the way my God, the one who accepted me regardless of my status or stains, expects us to love.
His love is bigger than the tiny box our society is creating, a container that only allows specific and marginalized compassion –love that is small, scared, and safe. Because of God’s love, my heart is full. My love pours and pours and never runs out; it can never be contained. It refuses to label, to judge who is worthy based on geographical borders. After all, if God loved you with these restrictions, how minuscule would His love be?
No, my God’s love is BIG. It’s all-inclusive, no black-out dates, no skin color, ethnicity or geographical restrictions. I do not deserve this love, yet it blankets me always, wrapping me in a cocoon of strength and grace, and this type of love is what God declares we should aspire to daily. When you have more than you need, which includes almost everyone reading this, God commands we build a longer table, not a higher fence….because tables feed not only our bodies, but also our souls.
Jesus, our Savior, was once a refugee; would you have invited Him in to eat at your table or would you have fenced him out and locked your doors??
God’s love is boundless and borderless, and we are instructed to strive to love each other this same way. It is a clear, simple commandment. Love. Just love. It’s not “love your neighbor IF (fill in the blank).” There are no qualifiers. It’s just LOVE. And we are in no risk of running out of this love. We can’t love one person too much, so that we don’t have enough for someone else. Nope, God’s love is boundless, so ours is, too. It is a beautiful gift and a clear commandment.
God has never nudged me to build even invisible walls and shut people out. But He has repeatedly, through His word and His nudges, directed me to spread His story of salvation, an impossibility if walls shut out those in desperate need of our voice and our love. What God wants from me is so simple people struggle with the concept. He just wants me. “He wants a loving relationship with His earthly children, and He wants us to take that vertical love and make it horizontal, taking His cue and treating our fellow human beings with love and respect.” BeliefNet
Love is the absolute foundation we should live upon. 1 John 4:7-8 makes this clear. “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” This doesn’t just exclaim that God is love; this scripture clarifies that when we fail to love, we are failing to try to live as Jesus did. When we turn our backs to suffering, we fail to love. When we create tiny boxes and quantitative labels, we fail to love. When we are unkind to others –or allow others to be unkind without voicing the wrongness of such behavior –, we fail.
We are better than the rhythm I am hearing every day. Our song is not one of fear and hatred; it is a song of kindness, forgiveness, acceptance, and compassion. Our song is one of love, giving and receiving over and over and over.
Today, dear friend, love. Just love. In every decision you make today, choose love. You’ll be amazed at how giving your love away will multiply it in returns. You have the capacity for endless, God-like, BIG love. Don’t let anyone make it small and seal it off in a container. God gave you the gift of an endless pitcher. Pour. Pour. Pour.