“Sweet” is often a word I use to describe my 4-year-old son, Gus. Sure, he has his difficult moments, as all children do. By and large, though, he is an easy-going, thoughtful, loving kid.
At first, this sweetness was all I considered when I thought about how he responded to that childhood FAQ: “What’s your favorite color?”
About 18 months ago, his answer was, “Purple, because Mommy likes purple!” Then, a few weeks later, it was, “Purple and also blue, because it’s close to purple on the rainbow!” A couple months after that, he would say, “Purple and blue and also green, because it’s close to blue and purple on the rainbow!”
The process continued until now, when he answers, “I like all the colors!”
So I mentally filed this away in my “cute stories to tell about my son” file. I didn’t think of it as much more than amusing small talk for work or parties.
Then one day as I was telling this story to someone at work, the spiritual lesson my son was giving me became clear. My 4-year-old had created an allegory of 1 John 4!
The call to love
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another … We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. This is the commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. 1 John 4:11,19-21
Do I love people because God loves them, as my son loves purple because I do? Do I love the people and things of God simply because they are close to God, the way my son loves yellow because it is a few degrees away from purple?
The call to love … but not necessarily like
It’s funny, though. When given a choice of colors, Gus will still tend to choose purple or blue, although he still insists he likes all the colors. I think this adds a new layer to his little metaphor.
God calls us to love one another, but we don’t necessarily have to like every person.
We can uphold a person’s human dignity and look out for their best interests without enjoying their company.
We can detach with love from people who are toxic, distancing ourselves but refusing to harbor ill will toward them.
We can love the sinner and hate the sin; sacrifice for the good of another without agreeing with their choices. After all, isn’t that what Jesus did for us on the cross?
Copyright 2018 Monica Portogallo