by Emily Conrad
I tend to make things complicated. Ask me to plot a novel, come up with a blog post, or give feedback on… well, pretty much anything, and I’ll generally come up with something longer than you anticipated unless I take even more time to pare it down.
So when I think about what it means to live out my faith, the list of do’s and don’ts can get pretty intimidating.
I’m realizing, though, that it shouldn’t be that complicated.
Jesus summed up the two greatest commandments as loving God and loving others. Just two directives hold the key to everything.
To grow my love for God, I read, pray, write, study, participate in the community, not because this list is somehow a ticket to heaven, but because I value the relationship these practices build. Because when I pour back to God the little faith and the little love I have for Him, faith and love He planted in the first place, He multiplies it.
Here, Jesus says, have more.
The math on that might be complicated, but the practice of it is not. It’s simply showing up to a relationship in which I have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
As for loving others, I’m intrigued by Psalm 15. It’s just five verses, the first of which asks who gets to dwell with God. Oh, yes, I want to dwell with God, so I join David in asking:
The list is so simple and includes things I never would’ve thought were important enough to make the short list. Things like not doing evil to a neighbor, being truthful, keeping promises, and not taking up a reproach against a friend.
Really? We need to be told to get along with our friends?
Well, yes, I suppose we do. Because God doesn’t want us to carelessly ‘love’ people, but to love them well, the way He loves them.
In my mind, that’s the thrust of Psalm 15: loving people well, whether they’re friends or acquaintances, those we like or those we don’t.
And the cool thing? Loving people is a way of loving God.
As Jesus said in His parable in Matthew 25:40, ‘I tell you the truth, just as you did it for one of the least of these brothers or sisters of mine, you did it for me.’ (NET)
And this is also not complicated. Granted, it’s not glamorous, either–how I wish it were–but it’s not complicated. Praise God for that.
The examples Jesus used in His parable were giving drinks to the thirsty, invitations to the lonely, clothing and food to those in need, visits to those sick and in prison.
If I make it complicated, this can become about donating money to organizations or finding a charity to volunteer at. And these are good things, but there are also so many people to love that I don’t have to go out and look for, people who can get help from me but wouldn’t be reached by those charitable organizations, people God put in my life so I could love them.
And so often lately, loving them has looked like simply saying yes when they express or I see a need.
Yes to simple love that says, Sure, I’ll come over.
Let’s have coffee. My treat.
On one occasion, I was asked to show up literally to just sit, present and accounted for and silent. Yup, silent. Okay, I’ll be there.
Because love can be just that simple.