Dallas Willard defines love beautifully in a lecture called “Reflections on John 14”: “Love is the whole deal…Live with the will, habit, disposition and power to advance good in the lives of those who are affected by you.”
Jesus commanded us to “love our neighbor as ourselves.” The root word neighbor can be dissected: Neigh = near and bor = rustic farmer. Your neighbor is the person who is near you. Your spouse, your child, your roommate, your co-worker, your professor, your waiter… Whoever I rub shoulders with, these are the persons I am to love. I’m often more comfortable loving the world. These folks are out of my reach, worlds away. And I can cry when I see pictures of people suffering in foreign lands, but that’s not loving them. In fact, Dallas Willard suggests that I am not responsible to love the world. “God loves the world. You’re not up to it. I’m not up to it. It’s enough that I should love those around me.” There’s the rub. Love can be hard work and almost always means I have to bear up and shut up, lose my ambition to advance my own good and seek to advance the good of others.
I can’t possibly love without your help. Please teach me to love every person in my life. Not just those who make my life easy but those who complicate things, those who are messy, those who don’t serve my agenda, those who I don’t particularly like. Make me like You. Make me love You.