How does one love God? It is a bit like asking "How does a little child love his or her parents?" It is not by prostrating before them and reciting fancy words: "Oh worthy father, thou are the ineffable source of our enduring patrimony." A child loves by running to his parents, chattering to them, crying with them, being with, going out for walks, playing with, listening to stories. So loving God is being like a little child with his or her parents.
Two days ago we went to Toronto to be with our grandchildren. One of them ate two huge slices of cinnamon bread, and then wanted a third. When her mother said no, she began crying and whining and making a fuss. We were amazed to see how our daughter took our granddaughter into her lap and gave her time to quieten down and be happy again. We too get angry with God, but we love him with all our heart when are willing to be loved and cuddled like a little child in his lap..
How then do we love our neighbor? Jesus told the story of the good Samaritan - he came from what we now call the Palestinian area of the west bank of the Jordan. On the Jericho Road he saw a Jewish man who had been beaten up and robbed, bleeding by the way side. It was a dangerous place, and the Samaritan could have passed by. But he bound up his wounds, set him on his donkey, took him to the nearest inn, and promised to pay the expenses (Luke 10:29-37).
We might call this Emergency Love. It does not happen every day. But if a man is driving up north to meet his friends for their annual moose hunt, and he sees a car turned over in the ditch, and a woman bleeding from her torn leg, he could step on the gas and leave her to die. Most of us would take off our shirt to make a tourniquet to stop the bleeding, take her gently into our car, and get her to emergency. Then we would call her husband and offer to bring him in our car to the hospital. I am sure most of you would do at least that in an emergency.
But there is also what I will call Investing Love. When we know we are loved by God, and we love him, we have lots of love to invest. You remember the story of the talents. One man was given ten talents, another five, and one got a single talent. They were left free to invest the money any way they chose (Matthew 25:14-30). God is not requiring us to go into financial investment, but some of us are given ten love talents to invest, others have five, and most of us have just a little bit of love we could put to work. What should we do with the love we have been given?
God says "You are my son, You are my daughter, I love you very much, and I want you to enjoy investing my love in any way and anywhere you choose."
We might need to invest most of our love in our family, and some families need a lot of love. Or we could invest it in our church community, and most congregations need a lot of love. We could invest our love in serving the city we live in, or we could go to serve in some needy part of the world. Mollie and I invested our love for eleven years in India. It was tough at times, but we have never regretted it.
If all of us began to invest our loving in whatever way we choose, we would soon turn the world upside down. And it shouldn't be a chore or a duty. The Holy Spirit can teach us how to invest our loving in a way that we will enjoy, and others will enjoy receiving. That is what I have called Investment Love for our neighbors. But in the parable of the talents it is obvious God does not appreciate it when we bury our talent for loving in the ground, and leave it useless and unused (Matthew 25:25-30).
You can see that loving God with all our heart is as simple as a little child enjoying the love of his or her parents. And when we know we are safe in the love of God, emergency love comes naturally to us. Investing our love in a way that we will enjoy and others will appreciate is a bit more difficult. But there is nothing more important in life for any of us.
A PRAYER "Father, I know you love me very much. Remind
me to keep running to you, talking to you, and ,sitting in your lap when
I get upset and angry. And then , as one of your children, help me to enjoy
investing my love in the work of loving others."