11 May, Thursday – How Are We Supposed to Love Others?

Thursday of the 5th Week of Easter

Acts 15:7-21

Jn 15:9-11

“As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you.”

Talking about a father’s love can be unfamiliar to many people, myself included. Growing up under the tutelage of the traditional Asian father figure from the baby boomer era meant that dad is more of a disciplinarian and provider than anything else. We hardly talk — no hugs, kisses nor any words of affection. Our only connection is via a 20-inch cane or a leather belt. Trying to understand the context of God’s love, as compared to a human fatherly love, can be a complex and sensitive issue. God’s love is unconditional and infinite; while it may not replace the specific experiences of love that comes from a human being, the deep sense of comfort and security is perhaps something that can fill the void left by a lack of affection from a father figure.

In the gospel of John, Jesus commands his followers to “love one another as I love you”. But how exactly should we love one another, especially if we are imperfect and incapable of agape love? These imperfections give rise to our skewed mentality towards love, leading to actions that can cause trauma and hurt to those around us. Unfortunately, the world is filled with much of these love that are flawed. Not only are many people not living selflessly, but they are living with hatred, generational hurt and disregard for others. Thus, the question lies in how should people who are hurt, or in suffering, exhibit their love for others? According to Dr Martin Luther King Jr’s ideas about love and the Beloved Community: “Love is creative and redemptive. Love builds up and unites; hate tears down and destroys.” Dr King’s vision was grounded in love, reconciliation, dignity and respect for all. To love others doesn’t mean that we have to force ourselves to like them. They may not be likeable, but as a fellow creation of God, they still deserve their fair share of dignity and respect. It can be very challenging to love others, especially if we have been hurt before, but still, it isn’t entirely impossible. Personally, I feel that the issue boils down to practice. In order to love others, we need to first practice self-love. By learning to accept ourselves and our flaws, we can better understand what it means to love others through empathy. Examining our faults would enable us to better understand what others could possibly be going through in their lives. Seeing things from the perspectives of others will then help us develop greater compassion and empathy, all of which are important components of love.

We can also make a conscious effort to practice small acts of kindness. It may sound pretentious having to put in a deliberate attempt in doing good instead of it coming naturally from the heart, but human beings are all creatures of habit. The more we practice, the greater the chance that we can naturalize it. It can start off with simple tasks, like holding the door open, complimenting someone or offering to help with tasks without expecting anything in return. Such small gestures can help build relations and show others that we care. Most importantly, we must remember that to love is not always easy, and it takes time to develop. Every individual’s journey is unique and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. It is essential to be patient with ourselves and others as we work through our personal issues. Keep practicing love and respect; over time, we may find that our ability to love grows and we will be better able to connect with others in a meaningful way.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Dylan Tan)

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, please create in us a new heart. Give us the strength and courage to see people, places, things and events through Your lens. Guide us and change our hearts to see the truth of what is, what has been and what will one day come. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Father, for being with us every single moment of our lives and guiding us to open ourselves to changes for the better.


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