“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” - Matthew 22:36-40
Seems easy enough, right? Except Jesus makes a very large assumption. He assumes I already love myself. Unfortunately, that part has not always been so easy. I have typically been my own worst critic. Judging myself and my actions much more harshly than I would ever judge another.
“How could I be so stupid?”
“If only I were thinner, younger, more patient, better educated….”
“I should keep my house cleaner, recycle more often, give more, do more, be more…”
And yet, Jesus is perfect. He always knew exactly what He meant when He was talking. So He couldn’t have made an incorrect assumption... could He? Why would He assume I already loved myself enough to know how to love Him and love others.
I have often in the past heard preachers say during their sermons, “God loves you just the way you are but He loves you too much to let you stay that way”. Unfortunately what I heard was “you are still not good enough.” But throughout this Lenten season, as I have drawn closer to God, and come to understand His perfect and unconditional love, I realize that God would actually say “I love you just the way you are. Period.”
And only by coming to that realization have I found the courage to reject the messages I used to believe were true and focus on the only message that matters…Love God and love my neighbor as myself. Period.