Pastoral Care, Chapter 3: You are Loved, Be Loving – Part 1

What is love? How do you know when you feel it? How do you recognize it? How do you reserve it? How do you express it so that it is genuine? So much has been written and said in response to these questions. However, since love is so essential to life and to staying alive as long as you live, I felt it necessary to offer some insights and keys to its experience, and to its expression.

The Greeks were wise. They have several words to express what we attempt to express with our one word “love.” Let it be understood, then, that what I have to say relates to love in our experience with God and with what that has to do with how we love others.

To do that, let’s go back to the stories in Genesis of our beginnings as human beings. According to the Genesis writers, God had so much love to share that God decided to create humans with whom to share it. So God made male and female, Adam and Eve, in God’s own image, after God’s likeness. To turn the lifeless forms into living beings, the Genesis writers say that God breathed God’s breath into them and they came to life. If, as they suggest, God created humans in and for love, we can claim that it was God’s love that prompted God to give breath to Adam and Eve. Thus it was not just breath but the love behind the breath which brought humanity to life.

Love was the dynamic energy of God reaching out and entering into humanity, inviting humanity to share in the life of God through love, and through sharing that love with one another. Love, then, is a gift of God in our creation which moves us, as God did, to reach out and to enter into the life or lives of others and to invite them into our lives. It is, therefore, not something outside ourselves we should seek, but a gift divinely given, through which we can enter into deep and meaningful relationships with God and others.

This is what, I believe, John meant in his epistle when he said, “God is love and he/she who loves is born of God and knows God….Whoever loves lives in God and God lives in him.” So love is a part of the very essence of our being, given to us in our creation. To claim the gift and to cultivate its expression is an important part of what it means to be fully human, to be alive and to stay alive as long as you live.

If you would be a loving person you must first recognize and claim, by faith, that you are loved. You must dare to believe that God did not simply “so love the world” in general, but that God loved you in particular enough to send His Son Jesus Christ to express the depth and extent of God’s love and to show us how to love.

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