Most Christians can rattle off the Greatest Commandment on cue:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind… and love your neighbor as yourself. (See Matthew chapter 22.)
And most of us would agree that a large chunk of the world’s problems would be easily addressed if we were all loving our neighbors:
Abuse. Slavery. Poverty. Misogyny. Adultery. Racism. Sexism. Greed. Jealousy. Murder. Stealing. Lying. Divorce. Corruption. Rebellion. Slander. Rape. Betrayal. War.
It sounds simplistic, but wouldn’t pure, sacrificial, unconditional love address these problems? Surely.
I wonder if perhaps most of us are “loving our neighbors as ourselves” already. And I wonder if perhaps the real problem is that we don’t love ourselves and so the way we express “loving our neighbors as ourselves” is just incredibly flawed.
I’m not talking about loving ourselves as in positive self talk, good self esteem, or putting all of our own needs ahead of everyone else’s. I mean the sort of loving yourself that comes when we’re living truthfully in humility and vulnerability and bravery. The kind that comes from being secure internally, free from comparison and competition, knowing that we belong to Someone, and accepting of the fact that we already are amazing. The kind that springs from understanding our identity in a great God that carefully created us with the purest of motives for the sole purpose of loving us, lavishly and unconditionally.
Maybe the world’s problem isn’t that we aren’t loving our neighbors as ourselves. Maybe the problem is that we are.
Dear friends, I’m not really posing a solution here – more of a question: How do we love ourselves and how does that translate into loving others? If we really want to impact the world for good and empower others to do the same, then we’d better be good at love. How are you doing at “loving yourself” and “loving your neighbor as yourself” these days? And how do you “love yourself” in a practical, tangible way while avoiding self-obsession, selfishness, and self-indulgence? (Big questions, I know.)