The Gospel of “I Love You!”
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” – Matthew 22:36-40 (NIV)
If I’m honest, I really don’t care for a lot of the people God loves. A lot of the people God loves make me angry or frustrated, nervous, bored, scared, confused or uncomfortable. I tell myself it’s enough that God loves them. In fact, I tell them that, too: “Good news!” I say. “Jesus loves you!”
But what if the that isn’t the gospel? What if it’s “I love you?”
Jesus tells us that the gospel of “I love you!” is so powerful it is the fulcrum of all the law and all the prophets. There is no moral imperative that can’t be met and no promise of peace that can’t be fulfilled if only we love our neighbor as we love ourselves. Jesus goes on to explain that the meaning of “neighbor” is up to us, and the kind of world we choose to live in. In the end, it’s clear that in order to share with others – any others – the good news of God’s love, more is required of us than simply pointing out the way.
Bad news: I will probably never be able to feel love for many of the people God loves.
Good news: I’m not called to feel love; I’m called to choose it.
O God, I love you! Help us to spread your love to the world by choosing to love others as ourselves. Amen.
Suzanne Jubenville is a choral director, liturgist, writer, and musicologist. She studied Worship Arts and Theology at Andover Newton Theological School.