Picture it. The Holy Land. 2000+ years ago. Some sneaky minx is trying to trick Jesus into picking a favorite commandment. They forgot that Jesus won’t be trapped by our shenanigans. Instead of picking a commandment or two, Jesus simply boils it down to the heart of the matter. Love God. Love your neighbor as yourself.
Fast forward to this century. The notion of self-help and self-love has exploded into a multi-billion-dollar industry. Yet, so many people I know still dislike themselves. They are in the constant game of comparison, never measuring up to their neighbor or their ideal of who they’d like to be. No stranger to self-loathing, I fall prey to this myself.
So how do we begin to live out the greatest commandments amid this?
It’s easy to resort to a checklist of things that help us to know that we “love God.” Go to Mass – check. Go to confession – check. Say grace before meals – check. Pray daily – check. Read Scripture – check. Help the poor – check. While all those things are good, what if our love of God is less about what we do and more about who we are?
I was reminded of this verse recently from the first letter of John. In it, we are challenged regarding our love of God.
“Those who say, ‘I love God,’ and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen.” (cf 1 Jn 4:20)
What does it mean then, to love God?
LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF
While contemplating that scripture, the Holy Spirit struck me with a profound thought. What if, to love God is to honor His creation? What if loving ourselves isn’t necessarily always liking who we are, but giving thanks for being made in His image? Regardless of the scars we have acquired from life in these here parts, each of us bears the divine image.
If we can’t at least acknowledge that there is beauty within through this divine fingerprint, how can we ever see it in another? Therein lies the conundrum of the Greatest Commandment Part Deux. We have to recognize our Creator’s image within us to reveal it within another. Divine speaks to divine. If we hide that away in false humility or have buried it in self-deprecation, it makes it harder to genuinely call forth the light in others.
Love begets love. You were created in great love by Love for love. Love God as you love your neighbor as yourself. Don’t believe the lies that hide the beauty of the divine image within you. Know it. Claim it. Call it forth in others.
How do you remind yourself (or others) that you (they) were made in the image of God?
Copyright 2018 Rakhi McCormick