How much do I love you?

No man is an island.

I often think about three kinds of interactions between people.

  • Love - the best, by far, is loving another human.  Some freely love.  Others hold it in until the right time.  Either way, actions done out of love may be misunderstood, but they produce the right interactions because love does not care what the response is.  Unconditional love exists unconditionally - it is not reliant on anything than the reality of the love.  You could say it rests on truth, God, Jesus, or the source (shout out, friend!).  But when humans love other humans, we bring together two and they interact to make each other better.  Love is a two way street.  When I love you, regardless of your response, I am changed and you are changed.  Reciprocated love is what makes the world go round.  Nothing feels as wonderful as sharing love with someone.  I really believe if the earliest humans had not experienced love, they never would have left their caves.
  • Hate - often confused as the "worst" reason to interact with someone, it is a perverted way of caring.  I'm not talking about anger - anger is a great motivator when used correctly.  Anger can be used to defend someone (mixed with love, anger dissolves into pure compassion and loses all sense of violence).  I'm talking hate.  Hate causes us to distort how we see someone.  Hate is a one way street.  Hate is about impessing my will upon yours.  I don't care what you think, how you look at me, or even what this will do to you - hate is lashing out.  Arguably, this is what Satan offers.  It isn't apathy, it never was.  Satan is simply hateful.
  • Apathy - This is the worst.  Seriously.  Would you rather have a person angry at you or not care about you at all?  You can at least respond to an angry person.  There is little possibility for response when someone doesn't see you at all.  This is why racism in America has historically been such a plague.  It wasn't a discussion of how we should treat other humans - those folks weren't humans, they were colored.  Think about marriage contextually in the Bible.  Women weren't people, they were property.  At the core of the current discussions about homosexuality is the question of how human these people are.  Should we view them as tainted humans?  Or just humans like the rest of us?  Regardless to where you stand on the issue, any question that calls to light your apathy will cause you pain.  You will probably respond first in anger!  But don't worry, people mean well.  Until you get past apathy - once you can put a face on that flesh and blood human next to you, you cannot care about them.  You are apathetic.  Its not a street at all, its the lack of relationship.
Now that I've gotten that out of the way, I have to ask...do I love you?

Well, how about a process of elimination.  Do I...apathize you?  Hahahaha, I just made that word up.  Let me try it in English - Do I even have a relationship with you?  Do I care about your life?  How my life affects you?  Another way of saying it is, do I even care?  

On a personal level, no.  I don't share a connection with you.  Well!  That was easy!  Or not...

In the grand scheme of things, you and I are very connected.  We share the same earth.  We share the same genus and species.  We might even share the same features.  I'm sure you and I have like 99.99999999% the same genetics.  You and I are both made up of carbon and both breath the same air.

Biblically, you and I share the image of God.  Jesus refered to God as Father.  And other believers were brothers and sisters in his body.  See the language?  We are connected - whether I want to admit it or not.

I must at least admit, on the FRONT of this whole question, that God calls me into relationship with complete strangers.  God takes it another step further.  Bombshell coming - 

You must love your enemies.  Don't be apathetic, don't be hateful - love them.  Oh snap.

hmmm...that was quick.  Apparently I don't love you.  But wait, I think I do.  Because I recognize that you and I have a lot in common.  I have to love you, and I'm cool with that.  I'm going to try.

I at least admit a relationship of some level between you and I, no matter how far apart we might be in geography, mental stability, or any other factor.

So I do not apathize you. (see my apologies earlier for making up words - mom, help me out here.  Give me a synonym.)

Do I hate you?

I don't hate you.  I don't think.  Maybe in my weaker moments.  Here in lies the rub - sometimes I do things that are apathetic to your existence.  But I'm not talking about apathy - hate is different.  Okayokayokay...I sometimes hate people who are closed-minded.  I sometimes hate people who use Jesus in hate instead of love.  There.  I said it.  But its not you, obviously, I'm using generalizations and would never look at a person (who is even closed-minded or believes/acts differently than me).  But something inside of me wants to say that I have my "enemies" too, and for that, I'm sorry.

You'll notice "the West" is filling with people who are not apathetic, but people who hate Christians.  Ahhhh, they are one step closer to understanding God's love.  We've had generations of Christians who were apathetic, and they will probably have to learn how to hate their neighbor (who is no longer Christian and hates the thought of organized religion) before they can love their neighbor.  Lets hope they skip that step.

So I don't hate you

Do I love you?

I sure hope so.  I'm going to keep trying.  I hope I can always see you as a brother or sister.  I want you to be part of my family.  How much do I love you?  Well, enough to not leave you where you are.  I plan on challenging you.  I plan on comforting you when things get rough.  I plan on loving you.  I plan on crying with you and laughing with you and trying my best to live into God's call on my life to be Jesus for those who need him.  And I plan on making sure its a two-way street.  If you love me too, awesome.  It'll make the world go round.

How much do I love you?  I can definitely love you more.  And I'm trying to get there.  God loves you - and I will try too.