Today love is spoken of in many different contexts. I love candy my little three-year-old says. I love this and that. Love is interpreted in so many different ways. Mom, I love you, you are my best friend and then when he doesn’t get his way, my three-year-old says: “mom is not my best friend.” There are changes within milliseconds at times and in our modern day world of our understanding and perception of love. Love is somewhat altered and diminished and tainted by life experiences, circumstances and challenges. We love people, we hate people. We love things, we hate things. Another example is when I love a spouse or friend when they do exactly as I would like them otherwise am frustrated and angered when things are not going quite as I would like. Love is most often challenged in us when we are outside of our comfort zone. The close circle we are familiar with, the tried and true and faithful family and friends along the way. We dare not venture outside of that circle for fear of feeling hurt disappointment, rejection and a sense of defeat in relationships. Trust is broken easily and on a whim or suspicion. We cast out the possibility of potential new friendships and relationships because of past hurts and pain and disillusionments. Our world is corroded with self hate, suspicion, envy, jealousy, fear of rejection and betrayal that causes many internal and external conflicts in human relations. It has been said that one can unknowingly incubate sickness and disease in one’s body due to emotional stresses of unforgiveness, anger and suppressed emotional pain. Everything internal needs an outlet.
One thing I have learned from living with and visiting various cultural groups is this: Humanity has a desperate need to love and be loved in return and to be fully and completely accepted as we are. Sadly we all have such varied backgrounds and it is harder to accept those and things different to us. So we generally end up throwing the baby out with the bath water. I have worked and lived with both rich and poor and have had a variety of cultural experiences and can truly attest to my worldview being enlarged through learning to love and accept people as we find them rather than try to change them.
Not necessarily by changing me to fit into the various groups but by allowing the various people and people groups to allow me to see the world differently with a greater and deeper and sincere compassion for why people are the way they are. Insight understanding and a genuine love without boundaries is definitely needed in our world today. We are taught to tolerate and respect others in Canada. Sadly that code is only upheld when it is convenient to do so. Underneath lurk warped perspectives, masked dislikes and prejudice.
Prejudgement before knowing all the facts and we shun those people and things we fail to understand. Love in action is getting out of our comfort zones and making a decision to listen more, talk less, understand and accomplish more, fear less.
My decision to love the unlovely, the downcast and downtrodden, as well as the rich, the arrogant, the self absorbed, did not come easy and in my own self I had in the past despised so many different things for so many reasons. But when God got a hold of my life things changes and my love or understanding of love expanded in so many directions.
That in laying down His life, Jesus transcended death, hell and the grave and reconciled the world and all the people in it from every nation,
tongue and tribe, to Himself.
God places a new desire in us to love with a pure love, a love without boundaries, which is without condition,
reason, prejudice or judgement.
Rebekah Harding is a member of the Reformation House congregation.