Jesus’ two greatest commandments were to love God and others. The love that Jesus showed in the Bible wasn’t the feel-good type. He fed the hungry and healed the sick. Love isn’t always easy; it can take us out of our comfort zones. It may be something that we need to do when it’s easier to do something else.
For example, the United States has the largest economy of any country in the world. Yet, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, one in eight Americans lives in poverty. This rate increases in difficult times as the least fortunate are hit the hardest by health and economic disruptions, and as the gap between the richest and poorest Americans continues to grow.
James 2:14–17 says it well:
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. (NIV)
Love can carry with it a burden, and as we become more conscious, that burden may increase. But it is a necessary burden— a loving one. It is the burden of not insulating ourselves through the we/they dualism that the unconscious mind loves to hide behind. The burden of Christian love is the obligation to be kind to and help people we know and don’t know. Doing this is an on-ramp to the Christian path that leads to the kingdom within.
To truly love requires personal action. It is love that is not like mere words on a greeting card, but something more tangible. Meaningful. Useful. Christ-like.
We can learn from 1 John 3: “For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. […] But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.”(23)
Jesus said the poor would always be among us. The need to help others is never-ending. While we will not be able to personally eliminate poverty and suffering for everyone, we can help someone, in some way, today and every day. As individuals and as a Christian community, we can act with love, the kind that might even hurt—but in a good way.
23. Verse 11, 17–18, NKJV