I had an interesting chat with someone regarding the lack of love in society some weeks back. Although impressed with her initial statement, I couldn’t help but feel she’s living somewhere between cloud cuckoo and never-never land. The conversation went something like this;
HER: “People need to let go of their fears and be open and loving with one another. If everyone was open and loving with each other the world would be a much better place.”
ME: “That’s so true. I fully understand what you mean and I really couldn’t agree more, but the reality is the world isn’t like that, and never will be.”
HER: “I knew there’d be a ‘but’ in there somewhere, and that’s what really grates me. People refuse to believe we’re capable of being loving. It’s utter nonsense. We can if we choose to.”
ME: “Again, I see where you’re coming from, but the simple fact is that we humans are naturally selfish, and as such will always have a tendency to put ourselves first. And secondly, why be open and loving if you’re invariably taken advantage of?! Nobody wants to be hurt and let down over and over again.”
HER: “That’s my point! It’s a choice. We can choose to be open and loving, even in the knowledge it won’t be reciprocated and will most likely be taken advantage of. Over time, if more people do the same, things will change.”
After that final statement, I decided to leave things be, consigning her to those unenviable realms of foolishness.
But I now realise this lady, who by the way isn’t a Christian, understands and believes in the concept of selfless love more than many of us Christians. Which, considering the essence of Christianity, is a somewhat sad reflection of how far we’ve strayed.
Please note, this is not a criticism of Christians but a simple reality check – for All of us.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this, everyone will know that you are my disciples.’’
John 13 vs 34-35
There is nothing in the above verse about who we should love. Jesus says we should love one another, regardless of faith / non-faith, colour, lifestyle choice, status, or church denomination.
In a time wherein the world is becoming more secular, and religions far and wide are frequently portrayed in a negative light, many of us are increasingly struggling to be true to who we’re called to be – be it being selflessly loving, kind to all, or following a predestined path.
Why love selflessly when everyone around you is only interested in their own agenda?
Why be kind all the time when people will simply take advantage of you?
Why be open when all and sundry judge, scorn, and ridicule you?
In a digital age of so many taking pleasure in attacking others on social media??? No thanks! Why risk the abuse?! Better to keep one’s thoughts and desires to oneself.
In other words, we’ve become so scared of what people may think or say that we prefer not to be true to who we’re called to be.
During the past few months, I’ve personally experienced more anxiety and fear than ever before – fear of failure, the future, what others may think, what may or may not happen, to name just a few. At times, so much so, that I wanted to run from my true path and hide under a rock, safe from sight, judgement, and failure.
Am I free from these fears today? Definitely not! But as each day passes, I’m slowly learning that even though the journey can at times be tortuous, things tend to work out as we trust God and be who he called us to be.
No matter how you may be feeling right now, the truth is that you were created to love and to make a positive and significant difference to the lives of others.
What you and I need, and indeed, what we should all continuously pray for, is the courage to be true to who we were created to be – loving, selfless, and making a positive and significant difference to the lives of others.
I rather like what Tim Lott of the Guardian says about courage.
‘Courage is not being free from fear. Courage is not allowing fear to distort your purpose and cramp your life. We all have secret fears, and to deny it is to deny some essential elements of our personalities. But if you can do one thing for your children, show them bravery, so that they learn bravery themselves. For courage is the wellspring from which an authentic life flows.’
May God give us all the courage to follow the paths he set for us and be the loving, selfless people he called us to be.