Jesus replied: “ ‘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
Many of my friends tell me, “I love the way you love!”
Honestly, if they were to tell me that years ago, I would not know what they were talking about. I do take this as a compliment and give all thanks to God for opening up my heart to love, but it has not always been this easy…
When I was 7-years old, my mom and dad went through a rough patch in their marriage and ended up getting a divorce. Even though I was really young, that was the beginning of my world war with love. For almost ten years, I looked at love as if it were my enemy and not worth dealing with because I saw how conditional it was with my parents. I tried to dodge love in relationships or look for it in the wrong places when I thought I knew what it was. It was not until Jesus wrecked my heart that I knew what true love was.
Growing up in church, I was always taught about the obedience side of Christianity, and rarely did I hear the love and mercy side of it. I only read my Bible because I HAD to; I only went to church because I HAD to; I only prayed because I HAD to. I did not enjoy it most of the time, and I did not love it.
The night I gave my heart to Christ, I was not fully expecting to surrender my entire life. I thought I would be a Christian around similar people and be “myself” around my other friends, but I was quite wrong.
That night, they showed a clip of Christ dying on the cross and stated, “Jesus died for your sins and because He fully loves you and your heart, no matter where it is.”
I was expecting them to say He died so we would love Him and obey Him, not because He LOVED US (1 John 4:19).
For many years after that night, I began to really open myself up to loving others, but only at a cost. That cost was: I will love you with the love of Christ, but what can you do for me? I was in the right place with the wrong mindset. We don’t love others because they love us or can do something for us. We love DESPITE what others may feel or do for us. That means loving your sister who despises your very existence; loving your fellow church goers even when they judge your every move; loving your disabled neighbor who cannot give you anything. Love is not easy, but it is worth it.
I am 24 years old, but it was not until I was 22 when I really began to love hard and without restraints.
Also, just because you love someone, it does not mean you have to agree with everything they do or say. That is not the love of Christ and that is not reality.
God has taught me to love in truth and love like I have never been hurt. However, it is hard, and I would not recommend that you do it in your own strength.
There have been times where I was hurt by guys, my family, or friends, and I turned my back on those that I loved. I have pushed away friends that have taken my love for granted or who did not reciprocate like I wanted them to do. I have never loved perfectly, but I have strived to love like Jesus every single day. When you begin to love without fear, boundaries, and judgement, God will open your eyes and heart to a new world. Nothing will be brighter or greener on the other side. However, you will see a world who is hungry for the love of Christ but does not know where to go to fulfill it.
Let us step out and love others with courage, truth, and Christ in us. Start with your closest friends and family and watch how Jesus begins to take their heart of stone and make it into a heart of Flesh. (Ezekiel 11:19)
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” John 13:34 (NIV)