Mahatma Gandhi once said, “where there is love, there is life”. He is right; love is the very soul of life. It is more than a feeling, it is the act of the will. But can someone command us to love them back? And even if we obliged, will that love be genuine?
Love is the supreme ethic of our existence. The joy of loving and being loved makes life worth living. But freedom to choose is an integral component of love. If we don’t have that freedom, we cannot really love, for in that case, we would be like robots who are programmed to comply without any will or sentiment.
Jesus was once asked, “What is the greatest commandment?” He replied that it was to love God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind.*
But how can you command someone to love? Is it not a violation of the freedom to choose? That’s a valid question. Let me give you three reasons why God commands us to love him.
Firstly, God is a selfless being, and so he desires the best for us. The best gift God can ever give us is not any material blessing, but Himself. The God shaped vacuum in every human soul can be filled only by God himself.
God commands us to love him because he knows only he can fulfil the deepest longings of our soul.
Secondly, it’s because the alternative is scary, which is narcissism or self love. The sin within us makes us love ourselves and pursue selfishness. At the core of every evil that we see around us is this self-centeredness.
Unless we love God first, it is impossible to selflessly love our fellow humans.
Thirdly, God commands us to love so that we may become his imitators on earth. The Bible says that while we were yet sinners and enemies, Jesus died for us. He was God in human form. The cross is the ultimate display of love - a hero dying for the villain.
God asks us to love him in response to the love that he has already displayed on the cross.
Jesus continued his answer to the question on the greatest commandment and said, “love your neighbour as yourself.”* Countries, communities, and individuals desperately needs more expressions of selfless love. It is beyond our human capacity to generate such lofty love. Only when we obey God and love him, can we truly love others! I pray that we may be able to obey the greatest commandment of all!
*Luke 10:27 (Bible)