Jesus replied, “The most important one is Israel, listen! Our God is the one Lord, and you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this, you will love your neighbor as yourself. No other commandment is greater than these.” Mark 12:29-31
The best thing that we humans do – is love. When we love, we are at our most excellent. When we love, everyone we meet is somehow improved. When we love, our small part of the universe is in perfect accord with the divine enterprise. There is nothing we ever do that is greater or more perfect than love; and Jesus must have known that since he placed love at the top of the commandment list – love of God, love of neighbor, and love of self. But the kind of love that Jesus encouraged was not passive love; it was active love – love as a verb – love as a dynamic undertaking; because he knew that it is through active love that transformation and renewal occur – the kind that makes the world a better place – the kind that works in accord with our transforming and renewing God.
So I can’t help but wonder why it is that love doesn’t come any easier than it does. True, it requires some effort, but anything we do requires some effort. So why would we not always put our best efforts toward love knowing that love is always the best choice we can make? Love is a choice, a choice that we make every single minute of our lives, and what it comes down to is do we seek to satisfy only ourselves, or do we seek to lift up and empower everyone we encounter? It seems like the choice should be easy – but if it were, it would not be a choice at all – it would be an instinct. And if it were an instinct, there would be no need for a commandment; yet there is a commandment and we still struggle to put love first.
Maybe it’s our understanding of love that gets in the way because most of us believe love to be a feeling that we have for one another, and only when we have that feeling are we spurred to action; if the feeling is not there, well then it’s just not and that can’t be helped. But love is not a feeling; it is an action that leads to wonderful feelings, and when we put the action first we are far more likely to experience the feelings rather than the other way around. When I show you love I become invested in your well-being; I become invested in you and I begin see that you are a child of God just like me which leads me to have feelings of love for you – and that is the best thing that I am capable of doing – that we are capable of doing – together.