In Matthew 22:37-39 and Mark 12:29-31 Jesus is asked the question, “What is the first or great commandment?” His response is very familiar to us all, but I wonder how many of us have paused to consider the depth of what He said? He told us to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, with all your strength and the secondly love your neighbor as you do yourself.
Obviously the command is to love. We can then make the assumption that we are all created with the capacity to love. Certainly Jesus would not command us to do something that He knew we could not do. So then do we automatically have love in us? Consider, we are created in God’s image and 1 John 4:8 says, “God is love.” I believe we are conceived with the ability to love. However, our life experience beginning at conception will determine our level of ability to receive and give love. Our life experience can teach us to love or to hate, to trust or fear, to be a giver of life or a taker of life, to be people centered or self-centered. It should be obvious that we cannot give to others what we do not have ourselves. The question is how much love do we have and what ability do we have to give it away.
Consider that Jesus said, “love with all your heart.” Again, it is a command so we must have the ability. However, what is the condition of our heart? Have we been loved to life by our parents, family and friends? If so, it will be reflected in our ability to express love to others. If we have experienced the lack of expressed love by those same people, our ability to express love to others is diminished. If we have experienced abandonment, rejection, shame, abuse, and more we may have closed our heart because of the pain of our life experience. If this is true, then we will have great difficulty in receiving love as well as increasing our inability to give love. Remember, we cannot give to others what we do not have ourselves. A heart closed to love is closed to God. This is the worst of life experience. A life without love is no life at all and a tragedy in the making. Most people we minister to are at their wit’s end and desperate from relief from their pain. Most of them have closed their heart for protection, but do not recognize that they have done so. They are depressed and angry at feeling unloved, isolated, ignored, and worthless and they are the only ones capable of reversing the process. They must decide to open their heart first to God and then to others. They must be willing to forgive those hurt them and then receive healing for their wounding. Partnering with Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the healing process opens the channels to our heart so God’s love can flow in. When we experience His love, we love Him, and we love ourselves, then we can truly love others without expecting something in return. Thus, we fulfill the commandment because love hunger has been totally defeated within us and what we have to offer our neighbor is the purity (absence of self) and the power of Father’s unconditional love. The power of Father’s love is transformational from the inside out. His love equips us to love with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and thus fulfill the first and greatest commandment.
From Roger’s journal 6/27/08 I offer this again for your consideration:
LIFE IS LOVE: LOVE IS LIFE:
The value of life is found in love. Love empowers life.
The power to live is found in love. Love empowers relationship.
The reward in life is found in love. Love makes intimacy possible.
The success in life is found in love. Love creates an atmosphere for success.
Love empowers faith and trust.
God is love and love is made up of two components. They are mercy and justice. We all need both to prosper.