The Manual (that is, the Bible. After all, it is the ultimate Users Manual) is full of commandments and exhortations to love each other. Love your neighbor as yourself (Leviticus), God so loved the world He gave His only son (John), in Ephesians, in Numbers (Love the Lord your God with all your heart, strength and soul) , in the Tanakh, in the B’rit Chadashah, everywhere! We are constantly reminded that God loves us and we should love Him, and each other (in that order).
But love isn’t enough. Why? Because human love isn’t God’s love. We don’t love unconditionally. Oh, yeah….people say they do, but we are sinful and self-absorbed. We love people more for how they make us feel as we do for their individual worthiness. What I mean is this: we love people because we see in them things that remind us of what makes us feel good. We love our parents, so we end up finding a mate that has similar qualities, physical and/or emotional, so we can be constantly bombarded with happy memories and feelings. We love people for how they make us feel. Don’t we? Whereas God loves us for ourselves. His love is unconditional and totally absent of ego. Our human love is drowning in ego.
I recognize that my feelings about people are not be “Godly”. I would LOVE it if they were, but it ain’t happening! I love the Lord, I love my wife, but I love them each in a totally different way. I love really hot buffalo wings, but in a totally different way (and just like love, those wings can turn on you in a second!)
What we need to do is go beyond love. We need to force ourselves to do what God wants, despite our feelings. We need to forgive when we are wronged, even if we can’t stand the person. Doesn’t Yeshua say that it isn’t anything to brag about (I’m paraphrasing here) when we do something nice for someone we love? Wouldn’t even a sinner, if his son asked for something to eat, give him bread instead of a snake? Real love, God’s kind of love, is doing good for people, even those we can’t stand, and even those who can’t stand us.
In Proverbs it says to give our enemy food and water is like pouring hot coals on his head. The idea is that we should do good, it will shock those who hate us, and maybe, just maybe, wake them up and turn them from their hate. That’s God’s kind of love- doing for those who hate us what is good for them.
That’s why (human) love isn’t enough. We need to do more than feel love, we need to act out love. We need to DO what love does, not just what we feel like doing. We need to push the envelope and get out of our comfort zone; we need to help when we don’t want to help, be compassionate when we don’t care (that’s me all over) and pray good for people we would rather see die a long and painful death.
Hard words. A hard lesson. But, then again, God never said it would be easy, just that it will be worth it when we reach the end.