Love your Neighbors as Yourself

Love your Neighbors as Yourself

Return to our Way of Life

The heart of God is loving your neighbor as yourself. We are neighbors of our God, who inhabits creation with us. God’s love shows us that we are infinitely worthy. It deepens the love we have for ourselves and others. Jesus tells us to love everyone with this love.

The love of God is real. It is not a love of wishes and dreams. It is tangible. God’s love felt its way through the darkness and mist until it found you. It accepts you as you are, were, and will be. The love that Jesus tells us to give to our neighbors is real and tangible. It should be as real and tangible as the love we have for ourselves and that God has for us.

There is a mystery to love. Behind the word there is an infinite dancing spectacle beyond comprehension. A singular definition of love alludes us. We feel the warmth of its presence and the cool of its absence. From a tender heart, love is healing balm that envelopes us. Love speaks to us through hope, beauty, and compassion. It is no wonder that these words describe the Lord, our God.

Love has no end, and there is no end to who is our neighbor. Neighbor is an inclusive word. It is a word that invites us to live together. We live together across the hall, streets, rivers, mountains, oceans, and time. Jesus invites us to love as He did. Jesus loved us first with a love that demands nothing but gives everything.

To love our neighbors as ourselves, we must see ourselves woven into the same fabric of humanity. There can only be us. There can only be the all-encompassing family of God. Within this love, there is no use for the words others, them, strangers, and foreigners. We are all siblings. There is no one who is not our neighbor.

Before we love our neighbors, let us take stock of what we have. Know yourself well so that you may love well. Come to see the edges of your capacity and ability to love. Like an athlete who trains, your capacity and love will improve with time. Each of us learns to love within a community. Pray for our neighbors. Ask our Lord to bless them. For those who persecute you, bless them. Ask your neighbors how you can bless them. Love one another. Accept the blessings and love of your neighbors. In this way, we are like God, who accepts our love and came to live amongst us.

All that is left is to love ourselves. This is not vain love. Can you be tender with yourself? Can you accept your own grace in your despair and for your failures? Can your love bridge the chasm between who you are and who you should be? God’s love does. This is the love that burns within the pure heart of Jesus. This is the love we are to have for ourselves. This is the love we are to have for our neighbors. Jesus, let us share in your love for all those you love.

Love is patient. Love is kind. Love does not envy or boast. It is not arrogant. It does not act disgracefully. It is not self-seeking. Love is not provoked. It keeps no record of wrongs. Love takes no delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. Love forgives all things and believes all things. Love hopes all things and endures all things. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease. Where there are tongues, they will be silenced. Where there is knowledge, it will disappear. Now these three remain: faith, hope and love; but the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8, 13 [UMB]

Invitations to Engage

  • Pray that God would give you a heart and eyes to see your neighbors in love.
  • Reflect on those you may struggle to see as your neighbor. Pray for God to share His love for them with you.
  • Reflect on the wells of love that you have to love others with. How are they filled? How have they deepened?
  • What are tangible ways that you can love one or two of your neighbors today?
  • How does the way you live impact your capacity to be loving to people outside of your home?
  • How has accepting the love and blessings of others change how you love yourself?
  • Invite God to reveal to you what your neighbors have recently taught you about love.
  • Where can you find people near you to love and bless?
  • Meditate on your capacity and ability for love, and if you are loving too much, too little, or just right.
  • Who is someone you know who loves well? What brought them to mind? Consider blessing them by telling them.
  • What parts of yourself are hard to love? Pray that God would bring people into your life to show you how to love in those ways.
  • Love has a habit of transforming. Reflect on ways that you have seen love transform a neighbor/s.

Meditations on this Rule