Learning to… Love

"Listening is the doorway to love"
 From ROG'sThe Paraklēsis Project

Jesus of course changes everything. He changed the way we listen to the commandments of the Father. He didn't change the commandments; He changed the way we listen to them. It was as if he cleaned our out our ears to really listen. The way He taught it brought a seeming simplicity. 

"One of the Pharisees, an expert in the law, tested Jesus with this question: 'Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?' Jesus replied, 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.'"Matt. 22: 35-40

"A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. In this way all men will know you are my disciples, if you love one another. John 13:34-35

"My commandment is this: Love each other as I have loved you."  John 15: 12

Love, it sounds so simple, but don't let the simplicity fool you. Just try it. Learning to love is hard, at least the way Jesus loves. I've been suggesting in the last couple of posts that learning is not as easy as just obtaining new facts. The new facts are the beginning. But learning means change...and change is hard. 

To be loved gives fuel to our lives. As Jesus heard the Father's voice of love, it gave him direction. To turn and love others, as Jesus did...that's another story. That's where growth, where change, takes place over the course of our lives. 

We have the basic idea of what it is to love because it is part of the God image placed within us. But our brokenness creates a different pattern to love than the way Jesus loves. Our natural pattern is to love if we know we are getting something in return. We initially chose to follow Jesus with that same kind of love. We followed, we love him, but with the caveat of, what's in it for me? The gospel is full of examples where the disciples as well as the masses relate to Jesus this way. 

Learning to love as Jesus loved means to love without the sense of reciprocity, without that sense of what's in it for me.   Our growth in love comes from discovering what hinders us from loving as Jesus loved us. Learning to love means having a change take place in the way I love. 

Over the course of church history schools were developed with the goal of seeing follower's of Jesus grow in love. The whole of the desert tradition, the movements brought about by the various religious rules like Augustine's and Benedict's, the attention given in the Netherlands from what was known as the Modern Devotion, the whole of the Reformation itself ultimately was desirous for the growth in this the greatest of virtues.

The ancient question, 'how then shall we live?' is about the attention given to our growth in love. It plunges into the depth of discovering how people get along; from marriages, families, churches, and neighborhoods. It is a crucial question for us today. How do we live together, how do we love one another? This is the second great focus of Rhythm of Grace. We are learning. But what we have discovered so far is that when we learn to listen (our first focus) to God and one another, we are on the doorstep of loving as Jesus loved. 

I pray this learning to listen and learning to love will be a blessing over you.