Love as Jesus loves
Last week, I shared three ways that Jesus loves: by seeing the people he encounters, tending to the needs of the people he encounters, and sacrificing his own life to bring life to all people. He invites us to love in the same way. But how do we do this practically? I believe that the first place to start is within our own families. Our families are likely the most convenient – because we are closest to them - and the most difficult – because we are closest to them - for sharing Christ’s love.
How do we see our family members? Because we are closest to them, we may tend to take our family members for granted and not really pay attention to them or listen to them. In order to truly love them, we need to stop and take notice of them. Jesus’ words in Matthew 25:31-46 give us a guide of how to open our eyes and hearts to really see our family members. We need to consider: What are their hungers and thirsts, their illnesses and imprisonments? What clothing and shelter might they need? It is important that we look beyond their physical needs and also consider their emotional and spiritual needs, as well.
After seeing the needs of our family members, we can then reflect on how we tend to their needs. How are we meeting their physical, emotional, and spiritual hungers and thirsts? How are we tending to their illnesses and sufferings? How are we freeing them from their imprisonments? With what are we clothing and sheltering them?
In order to really see our family members and tend to their needs, we must make a commitment to sacrifice ourselves to share life with them. We sacrifice ourselves when after a long day of work or school we don’t just sit down in front of a screen to relax, but we instead take time to listen to them, snuggle with them, play with them. We sacrifice ourselves when we set aside our own sufferings to tend to their sufferings. Another way to sacrifice ourselves for our families is to make time to pray for and with them.
It is important for us to remember that we cannot love as Jesus loves on our own. Left to our own desires, we are always tempted to act from our egos. Our human nature seems to be drawn to self-comfort and self-preservation. Jesus knows, however, that we cannot live his love on our own. He gives us his Holy Spirit to empower and embolden us to love as he loves. We only need to open our hearts to the Holy Spirit that our hearts might be softened and expand to be filled with the love of Christ. When we open our hearts to the Holy Spirit, Christ doesn’t simply fill our hearts to sate our own hunger for him; he fills our hearts to overflowing so that his love moves through us to touch the hearts of others.