Tuesday, April 8, 2014

To Love and Be Loved

christians often speak of "doing God's will."  this phrase means different things to different chrisitians.  for many there is a sense that God has a plan for each life, and for those whose personal theology subscribes to this point of view much thought and prayer is given to discovering that plan and seeking to follow it in every way possible.  if God has a plan for one's life, then there is a right person to love, a right school to attend, a right career to pursue, a right home to rent or purchase, a right car to drive, a right church to attend, a right circle of friends, and so on.  every decision of life, no matter how mundane, must be made with a conscious effort to discover whether one is living in accordance with God's plan.

from my perspective, that is a terrible way in which to live.  for me, "doing God's will" means being awake to the love that permeates all of creation, being a conduit for that love to envelop me and flow through me to others.  the source of that love is God, and God's will is for each of us to love God, love ourselves, and love God's creation.  that will is summarized in jesus' teaching that the greatest commandments are to "love the lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, love your neighbor as yourself" (luke 10:27).  in this version from luke, the pair of linked commandments (which actually come from the mosaic law) are spoken to jesus by another in a conversation between jesus and an "expert in the law."  jesus confirms to this "expert" that he has spoken correctly, and in response to the expert's question about who one's neighbor is, jesus goes on to tell the parable of the good samaritan.  the same pair of commandments is found in the other synoptic gospels as well; in matthew and mark it is jesus who gives the commandments.

if one lives according to these teachings of jesus, a constant struggle to live according to some imagined plan imposed by God is unnecessary.  further it is possible to live as God intends without believing in God at all.  every person is capable of living a life of love and compassion.  the atheist blogs i read are written by men and women who seem much nearer the "kingdom of God" about which jesus spoke than many of us christians.  it is not a theologically correct belief system or a perpetual effort to discover God's direction for every decision of life that makes one a follower of jesus.  instead, it is the living of a thoughtful, loving, and compassionate life that fulfills God's purpose.

may each of us rejoice in the freedom we have to choose between lives of guilt in which we can never fully discern some imaginary plan for us and lives of love that embrace the love of God inherent in all of creation, the love that is the essence of God.  shalom.

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