12 This is my commandment: love each other just as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love than to give up one’s life for one’s friends.
Loving those in our own family circle or community may seem like the most natural thing to do. On closer inspection, the daily challenge of loving selflessly, means that we must freely love as God loves us. But we cannot see the other person through God’s eyes. Perhaps we are waiting for them to change or to see the error of their ways. When we do this, are we not judging? Love for another is truly learning to be selfless, by freely giving up our own way. This sacrifice may not be so easy, but this is how Christ first loved us.
For me, parenthood is a daily reminder of selfless love. God, as the ultimate parent, offers us support by having freely laid down his life for us. A timeless example, it means giving up our own needs and putting others’ needs first because of love. Furthermore, mature parenthood means that as children become adults, they may choose another path. As a mom of young adults, I have learned this first-hand. Even if I struggle to accept my kids’ decisions in the world, I love them unconditionally, living by Christ’s selfless example.
Beyond parenthood, loving others means living by Christ’s example of love. Even when we choose a different path, God still loves us selflessly. The Good Parent knows what is best for us, but we can still freely choose our way in the world without condition. In turn, the power of Christ’s love also challenges us, urging us forward to share that same selfless love with the world.
By Barbara Carlson
For Pondering & Prayer
What are the ways in which you struggle to love others conditionally? Who might need that love through prayer or another action right now? Think about someone whose life choices you may have struggled to accept. Think about how our judging one another may get in the way. I offer a version of the Serenity Prayer, written by American Theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr:
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things that I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.