“Nothing would be radical about ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself’ if it did not contain ‘as thyself’.” — Immanuel Kant

Leviticus 19:9-18 (esp. 18)
Luke 10:25-37 


Nothing less than this adequately describes Moses’ teaching that Jesus echoed. “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Are you kidding?

Maybe it’s just me, but think about it this way: each morning you wake up, you don’t debate whether or not to feed and clothe yourself. You just do it.

You spend little time contemplating whether you should care for yourself. You and I both make ample time to consider our best interest.

We eat healthy, or at least plentifully. We rest often. We exercise. We work to provide for ourselves and for our futures. We work hard in relationships to promote our brand.

Certainly we have missteps, such as our periodical splurging. Or we feed our addictions with another drink, smoke or snack. But for the most part, we prioritize our own interests.

I care for me. I love me. You love you. These are givens.

Do this for another person? This seldom crosses my mind. Yes, the words “love your neighbor as yourself’ have crossed my mind. But to live like that? Not so much. Maybe if it had, Moses and Jesus could have saved their breath.

I say, “I love you” to a handful of people. But none occupies my mind as much as I do.

Benefit, promote, provide for, and protect another the way I do myself? That’s ridiculous. Did either Jesus or Moses consider what my cost might be if I do this for another? This practice would steal my time, my money, my energy and my efforts. And above all, who will meet my needs?

Jesus pronounces that no one has greater love than one who “lays down his life for his friends.” If I love my friends as I love myself, I must lay my life down for them. I’ll spend my time serving them and giving to them. I’ll forget about me as I focus on them; there will be little time think about me.

This is a sort of death.

But Jesus also said that he who loses his life will save it. This makes little rational sense. Maybe when we begin to focus our love powers outward, toward others, we’ve then started to live. At the moment, all our love powers and capacities point to us.

That’s still crazy. But it’s so crazy, it just might work.

Whom do you love? How so?
What is the personal cost to you of loving another? 


© 2006