Today I am reflecting on ye olde biblical addage… “Love your neighbor as yourself”. Those are words attributed to Jesus in answer to the Pharisees trying to trip him up. They asked him, “Teacher what is the Greatest Commandment in the Law?”

Jesus answers, “The Greatest Commandment is this: Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, all of your mind and all of your soul, this is the Greatest Commandment and the second is like it, Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Well, that makes it all pretty simple, right? Love God and Love People, CHECK and DONE! However, as we look a little deeper into how Jesus phrased that response, I think we can learn a little more about what’s at the heart of love.

Loving God is pretty easy…or is it? Loving God consists of an actual one on one relationship with the PERSON of God. This is NOT something that is gained solely through fellowship with others, i.e. church services, etc. A true lasting and growing relationship with God is based on a daily, actually, I’d say a moment by moment experience of life with God.

We must get to know the character of the person of God. We only truly get to know that if we spend time with them. We can’t grow in relationship with them if we only ever hear other’s opinions of them.

Imagine this:

Imagine you are married/dating and instead of interacting directly with your spouse/significant other on a moment by moment basis, you meet with someone else once a week.

During that once a week meeting you get to hear about that person’s experience with your sweetheart. You hear their beliefs, their mindsets and all their thoughts about your honey. Then, you are left to interpret your own relationship based on that person’s interactions/opinions with your significant other.

Do you think your relationship with your sweetheart would grow and change and deepen in that scenario?

Obviously, that is a rhetorical question and is totally preposterous, right?!

However, if we only hear about God from others and never take the time to pause, experience and hear for ourselves, isn’t that pretty much the EXACT same thing?

For me, I know when I started leaning in and spending time with God, just me and the Big Three, that is when I truly started to get to know their character. That is when I truly got to feel and experience their deep and amazing love for me. Just me, no one else and not told to me from anyone else’s perspective. Experiencing that love truly transformed my heart, mind and spirit.

Once I knew and could accept their 100% full acceptance and love for me it rocked my world. Suddenly, what other people thought of me had no consequence in my life. My worth could not be shaken. The God of the Universe and everything in it loves ME, exactly how I am and no one will ever be able to convince me otherwise.

This is a foundation of my walk in this world. I no longer care if people don’t like me. I no longer live to please other people. Now, this doesn’t mean I am a fire breathing ogre, not at all. Rather it has helped me love people more because I don’t have to try to love them in a way that manipulates their thoughts about me. I get to love them, right where they are and that is love-ly!

In fact, learning that I’m loved and accepted exactly as I am has helped me love people I was formerly taught to reject, fear and hate.

Be careful on the path of deep love…the more you learn to love you the more you see awful and hurtful beliefs fall away from any old religious lenses you’ve worn AND the more you love others and that, folks, is a Stinkin’ Beautiful Thing!!

For more on this journey into love with my spirit, click here for Part 2 of Love your Neighbor as You Love Your Dog.