I don’t consider myself a Christian, although I am a big supporter of Jesus’ response to his disciples when asked what are the two greatest commandments. He replies with something along the lines of, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind, and with thy whole strength; second, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”
As much as I agree with Jesus’ words, I realize how difficult they are to put into practice. How does one love God? And how is one to love thyself, and so thy neighbor?
To answer these questions adequately would likely require a series of books, however these posts are meant to be short and digestible in just a few minutes, so I’ll just start bit by bit.
First, how can we love God? As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t have that great of understanding of God, but for now I understand God as a creative force well beyond our ability to comprehend. Essentially, I understand God as that which cannot be understood aside from that God is completely good and has a great capacity for creating and giving. If we think of God as a Creator and Giver, then we can understand that God is the force responsible for the creation of the universe and the force that gave us life, along with an innumerable amount of other gifts. In many ways, I understand God as a creative force that flows in the world beyond our comprehension; however, I also think we have the ability to become conscious of God and the complete Love and Goodness exemplifies God. The more we become aware of God, the miracles of creation, and the miracles of ourselves, we love God. By experiencing Love, Peace, Joy, and Goodness, we experience God, and so we love God.
Like giving attention to a baby, we show how much we love the baby by sharing our time with him or her. That can be physical time, sharing space with the baby, or we can share our time with the baby in prayer, thought, or even shopping for baby supplies! We can also work so that we can give more to the baby. We demonstrate our love by how much we give of ourselves to the baby, and even in thought and consideration of the baby.
Likewise, the more we align our actions so that we are increasing our giving to God, then we are loving God. The tricky part about giving to God is that God is spiritual, not physical. Thankfully, if we think of God as the Creator, then all of creation is in one way or another a manifestation of God. You and I are children of God, and the gifts of our bodies, minds, nature, and people everywhere are just some of the amazing gifts God gave to us, for free! Therefore, we can give to God, thereby loving God, simply by loving the creation shared with us by God.
If we give our time and energy to bettering ourselves, bettering others, and bettering the world as a whole, then that is certainly one way to love God. Of course, the ways in which we generally understand ‘bettering’ ourselves or others often vary, which is why committing to a process of continuous education is important so that we can come to a truer understanding of what exactly is the ‘better state’ that we should all be moving towards. The more we understand what is truly good, God, then the more we can move towards living in that ideal goodness.
Another way to love God is to spend time with God as purely as we can. As much as we can move and work about in creation, there can always be some corruption lurking, as well as temptation. The one place that we are completely pure is within the most basic gift God gave to us – ourselves. By spending time in solitude we may commune with God. Sitting silently is an act of cherishing the essence of ourselves. We can all take time to acknowledge the glorious nature of ourselves as created beings by simply being, without asking anything else of the world to entertain us or busy our minds. We can all benefit by practicing silence, growing in peace, understanding, and connection with our true nature and with God. It’s not impossible to experience God’s goodness through something like television, but certainly a break from our over-stimulated culture can help us purify ourselves and grow in harmony with all that is.
To summarize, I think we can all love God by loving creation, and that means that we must give to creation. By giving what we believe is good to ourselves, to others, and to the world, we are loving all that God created. Of course, understanding, “what is good?” is a question that has remained unanswered for thousands of years, which is why it is a responsibility of each one of us to answer that question to the best of our ability as we understand it based upon our personal experience. What do you think is good? How do you want the world to be? Live it! And, of course, love it!
The more we ask questions like, “What is good?” and “What is love?” then we will all grow in our understanding of God and be able to give more to ourselves, to others, to the world around us, and above all – love God. Loving God is simply loving all that is, no matter what. Cherish the goodness that is with us always. Right here, and right now, we’ve got it all. Thanks be to God 🙂