We’ve been told as children about stranger danger. For kids, this is legit. As adults though, it gets to be a grey area. Yes, you should by all means live with sound, reasonable judgement. I’m not saying open the doors to your home or expose yourself to danger. What I’m saying is, if we’re called to love one another, doesn’t this include people you might not know?
Jesus didn’t ask us to love one another, he commanded it. It’s one of the few (perhaps the only) thing he commanded us to do. Sure, he gave a ton of advice on living and some good instructions written in parables, but he specifically commanded us to love one another.
Jesus said in John 13:34 (NIV) “a new command I give you; Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” The message version reads “Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples – when they see the love you have for each other.” Why do we think he emphasized loving each other so greatly? First, we have to understand what love is.
Let’s get to the psychology of love. Google defines it as an intense feeling of deep affection. Many writers, poets, and even people in love or scorned from love might define it different. The definition isn’t important. What’s important in the psychology of love is that there are different types of love. According to Psychology Today, John Lee categorized 6 major types of love: eros (erotic desire for an idealized other), ludus (playful or gamelike love), storage (slowly developing attachment), mania (obsessive and jealous love), agape (altruistic love), and pragma (practical love). In their own 1984 factor analytic study, Robert Sternberg and Susan Gracek identified one overarching factor, which they termed interpersonal communication, sharing and support (later called intimacy).
In understanding that there are different types of love for different types of relationships, we can then feel less intimidated by the fact that we are called to love one another.
Striving to love others we might not know in practical ways instead of intimate or agape love takes a lot of weight off in fulfilling the command to love one another.
When thinking of how to express love to others, think of random acts of kindness. Are these not messages of love? Putting someone else above yourself is in essence, love. This is what Christ did for us, and what we are supposed to emulate. When it’s your time, money, manual labor, control, ego, etc. that you are sacrificing for others, I do believe that is the version of love we are called to. So, let’s get practical. How can we express love to others, even those we don’t know?
Be Kind. Writing that, I was instantly I was teleported back 20 years when you used to rent video tapes and they had that little sticker, be kind please rewind…I have officially aged myself! Anyway, we have the internet to take all the thinking out of it. Check out Random Acts of Kindness. It’s actually Random Acts of Kindness Week this week (Feb 11-18, 2018) a perfect opportunity for you to get started! Make sure you use those hashtags when you do it, #rakweek2018 and #capturekindness. They’ve made it super easy with a page of 114 Random Acts you can do today! Check it out here.
Use Your Filter. No, not the selfie one either. I’m talking that mouth filter. It’s hard. I get it. I struggle too! What I’m talking about is extending grace, especially to those who don’t deserve it. This is another form of sacrificial love expression. In recovery, we learn to practice the pause right? Imagine how much better we would be at loving others who offend us if we practice the pause in the heat of the moment. We are constantly bombarded by others who are in the midst of their own personal struggles. We must practice the pause in traffic, in the checkout line, on Black Friday (if you’re crazy enough to do such an event), etc. These are all opportunities for us to show love to those who actually piss us off, right? Pray for the person who cuts you off. Obviously, they need some love in their life. Let that person with all the littles go ahead of you at the checkout line instead of rolling your eyes while they scream behind you. Momma’s are a special breed who need extra love and grace.
If all else fails, work on yo’ self. Don’t forget to show yourself some love. Then do it again. Eventually it will become habit. When it does, then you are capable of loving others. It goes back to the whole cup half full philosophy. If you’re the cup and you’re only half full, how can you be expected to give to others and still remain full? Invest the time and dedication it takes to self-care. Set your boundaries in your environment and keep them. By doing so, you naturally have more love to give to others, which is the purpose of life, is it not? (According to Christ it is, anyway).
Hopefully, you’ve pondered the weight of loving others today. It is a serious command, or Christ wouldn’t have said it the way he did. He knows we are not all scholars or theologians capable of deciphering parables with exact precision. Coming from someone who loves me with agape love, I take the weight of his command pretty seriously. He’s already given us the capacity to love others through the spirit that lives in each one of us. No one, knows that more than the individual working recovery.
Like what you read? Think my theology is way off? Sound off below in the comments and I’d love to converse!
In the meantime, stay sober my friends!