Last week, I was discussing my faith with a friend who happens to be agnostic. The conversation was very 'matter of fact', and I wasn't in a mode of conversion...just two guys talking about bigger things in life than ourselves.
At a point, faith came into play. He expressed how the faith element of Christianity was the most difficult one for him to swallow. Normally, I have a standard answer about how it takes no more faith to believe in God than it does to believe in Einstein or Newton. The Theory of Relativity is just that...a theory...and is impossible to prove on a cosmic scale. But I digress.
But before I could even shift into my feelings on faith, I chuckled and responded, 'Wait until you get to the part on love...' Naturally, that peeked his interest, and he began to probe to see my feelings on the subject matter.
Let me stop and remind readers about a favorite saying from my now deceased grandfather- When you're hip deep in snapping turtles, it's too late to think about draining the pond.
I took a deep breath, fully realizing the can I had opened and moved forward with John 3:16 emphasizing the word 'so' from the verse. Then I moved on to other familiar passages, including the one above, before coming to the very passage I would hear my pastor speak on less than a week later at this past Wednesday night's service. He actually started with John 15:1 and worked through verse 8, stopped for discussion, then moved to the passage I used talking to my friend...John 15:12.
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.
For me, coming to grips with the reality that I must rely on faith to fill voids left by unanswerable questions was a lengthy struggle. There are a number of questions I will never know the answer to on this side of Heaven, and I'll only know them then if He chooses to reveal the answers to me. I have, however, overcome that struggle to live by faith. Following the command of my Savior to love my neighbor as I love myself...that's a completely different struggle...and a difficult one each and every day.
The word love (or variations of the word) is mentioned 442 times in the KJV Bible and 697 times in the NIV Bible. Most references are found in the New Testament. But beyond the numbers, Christ spoke and commanded us to love on numerous occasions. It doesn't take a Rhodes Scholar to figure out how important the verb love is to Christians. So why do most of us struggle so much with love?
Although the question may be rhetorical, the struggle is almost universal. I can only speak from my perspective, which has seen me make a concentrated effort to follow the two greatest commandments according to Jesus...Matthew 22:35-40.
It is a daily effort to live first and foremost by this very principle, I must admit a greater level of joy has been a result of that effort. It's easy to love my fellow Kingdom Bloggers, but not so easy to love the child molester while condemning his actions... I don't really have a chose in the matter though if I'm to be Christ-like and live in God. That's the true power of love.