Many people will tell you that the most important thing in the world is just to love people. The problem is that we have many ideas about what love is, and something we think is loving may in the end turn out not to have been for the person’s good, and even actually harmed them. Like when a parent smothers their child with overindulgent affection, thinking this is “loving” their child, when in actual fact it may create a string of emotional and psychological problems.
This is because we haven’t realized that just loving people is not the most important thing; it’s only the second most important thing. The most important thing, as Jesus taught us, is actually to love God, and with all our heart, mind, soul and strength (Mt 22:34-40; Mk 12:28-34). When we love God first we desire and allow ourselves to be shaped by His will for us. And God “IS LOVE” – i.e., He is the only source and definition of what it really means to love someone. So we can only know how to love someone else when we love God first, and are shaped by His love.
The last two centuries in the Western world have seen a huge decrease in love for God (and faith in Him). Has this decrease in love for God resulted in an increase in love for our human neighbours, or a loss of it?….
Jesus taught that loving God is the greatest, first commandment, and loving others – our neighbours is the second commandment. We can’t do the second one unless we are doing the first one, first. We will love God first when we realise that He has loved us first; and with a love that cost His Son’s life, mercifully saved us from sin and death, and given us resurrection from the dead to eternal life (1Jn 4:9-11)!
Grace and cheers, Jonathan.