In our heads, we understand that everything we accomplish is pointless if we cannot be known as people who love freely and fully. In our hearts, we long to be reminded of our secure place at the center of God’s beating heart. Love is compelling. It’s comforting. We are driven by our deep need for it. We’ve known the fulfillment of passing it around. It’s in and around us, the great prize of life, if you boil it all down. But it sure doesn’t seem simple a lot of the time. Or, at least, we don’t want it to be.
So often, we get busy trying to make its scale match its significance. If it’s as big a deal as Jesus said it is, then we need to be sure we don’t mess it up. We need to study love, stew on it, pick it apart, and fashion it into something worthy of the title. We endure untold sermons and Bible studies on what it might look like to truly love our neighbor. We read books and blogs, discussing them with our friends, but we never seem to take the actual step of getting outside of our churches and homes to do something about it. Putting wheels on our head-knowledge and skating out into the world with our hearts exposed sounds terrifying, and the stakes feel too high. . . .
What I’m learning is that it’s as simple as looking out the window and noticing. As we go looking for magnificence in the ordinary corners of the world, hard lines will blur. Fences will fall. As our love for our place deepens, our love for its people will flourish. We’ll find ourselves breaking from the conventional wisdom that says we are to mind our own business. Maintaining a safe distance asks nothing of us. It’s so easy to tip into judgment when we view the world through an us-them dichotomy. Sitting face-to-face, the problems loom larger and we have to contend with the sticky fact that there is simply always more to the story. Looking at our neighbor with compassion rather than scorn, we’ll soon discover why Jesus made such a fuss about it.