Love Others: Mission Impossible?

Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to love others unconditionally (as God has loved you) and in this way share the good news of humanity’s inclusion in the fellowship of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

It’s not Mission Impossible, but it’s a challenge. In our zeal to share our understanding of our worthiness and acceptance in God’s sight, we sometimes lose patience with the very ones with whom we are sharing the good news. Why can’t they just get it? Why would anybody not want to hear that God’s love and acceptance of each one of us is sure and complete?

Though our motives for sharing this good news are likely good, we are often shocked when our efforts to explain our inclusion in the fellowship of the Father, Son and Spirit end up falling on ears with hands firmly clapped over them. Given the wide range of life experiences of each person, the willingness (or ability) to hear that he or she is loved, accepted and included by God (no strings attached) can be wide and varied. What are we to do?

Our first response is to believe we must be patient and persistent with those we witness to, but this often implies the belief they are wrong and we are right. This view doesn’t allow for any individuality in our spiritual journeys. Further, expecting others to conform according to our timetable can have disastrous results.

Zorba the Greek discovered this when he tried to “help” a butterfly exit its cocoon more quickly. He breathed on the partially emerged butterfly to warm it, believing it seemed to crawl out more swiftly. Once it was out, the crumpled wings would not unfold despite the butterfly’s efforts to straighten them. More warm breaths on the insect did not help and shortly thereafter, the butterfly died.

This example teaches us when we focus only on the end result, where others come to an understanding of our acceptance and inclusion by God, we need to allow for the necessary wrestling that strengthens their faith and makes it real to them.

More importantly, we must be willing to grant them the freedom to grow at the pace they choose. This freedom only comes through love. Rather than cultivating patience in our quest to share the wonderful truths about God’s loving acceptance of all, we might consider the ways we can love others so they are freed from their burdens, whether it is the burden of needing to be right or having to win an argument, or perhaps the burden of tradition, or even the burden of hurt feelings from mistreatment at the hands of those who claimed to know God.

Consider the love of a monk shown to a lowly burro in the poem “Love Does That” by Meister Eckhart:

All day long a little burro labors, sometimes
with heavy loads on her back and sometimes just with worries
about things that bother only
burros.
And worries, as we know, can be more exhausting than
physical labor.
Once in a while a kind monk comes
to her stable and brings
a pear, but more
than that,
he looks into the burro’s eyes and touches her ears
and for a few seconds the burro is free
and even seems to laugh,
because love does
that.
Love frees.

Because the kind monk sought to convey understanding and love to the burro, the burro felt its burden lifted. By seeking to comfort and encourage one another and allowing the freedom “to grow in grace and knowledge,” we lift the burdens of hurt that may blind others to the unconditional love of God. This makes sense, as we are loving one another the way we have been loved by God first. For us, it may seem like Mission Impossible, but with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, all things are possible.

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