Loving Like God Does… Isn’t That Easy

“We cannot separate love for God from love for man. We acknowledge God easily, but our brother? Those with whom we do not identify in their background, education, race, complexion? We could not have imagined that love for God could be so hard.” -Edith Stein

homelessman1As Christians, if we are comfortable there might be something wrong. To be a Christian, in imitation of Christ, is to attract the attention of those who consider themselves enemies of God. It was that way in the time of Christ and it is the same today.

We cannot say that we love God, if we are unable to honor the infinite dignity of any other human being; if we abandon, or ignore others; if we judge another human person by something as irrational as the color of their skin, or their status in society; if we diminish their value as a person in any way, we cannot say that we love God.

If we fear, or hate any one of God’s children, how can we love God? Are we not hypocrites if we place ourselves above others while, at the same time, claiming to be followers of the One, “Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:6-8)

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More importantly, if we refuse to forgive others, we fail in our Christian duty to live as sons and daughters of God, brothers of Jesus, and temples of the Holy Spirit. For to imitate Jesus is to know that forgiveness is the power of love in a sinful world.

It is true, this love of God is not easy. It requires of us the courage and the faith of saints. To live as Jesus lived is to suffer the slings and arrows of those who will despise us because we shed the light of compassion on their own dark lives. But in the end, to live as Jesus lived is the only true path to a world that is truly just and compassionate.

At this Advent time of the year we are challenged to renew our love for God, to once again prepare the way for the Lord in our personal lives and in our public lives in the world.

The only thing we must fear is our falling short of loving God with our whole hearts, minds, bodies and souls. We know that God’s love for us is creative, merciful, unconditional, and eternal. Sure, forgiving the sinner, healing the sick, lifting up the lowly will be difficult. But with God’s love, and a little bit of faith, we can, “tell a mountain to move from here to there.” (Matthew 17:20)

Because we cannot separate the love of God from the love of man, and because the world is still not friendly to the love of God it is never “easy” to be a faithful follower of Christ. On the other hand, loving God by loving his sons and daughters, no matter how difficult that may be, is the only choice worthy of a human person made in the image and likeness of God.

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site blog.