Have you ever ‘loved all humanity, or all people’? I think we have probably all said it in conversation at one time or another, if only as a defense before we said something slagging on a segment of humanity, maybe even against one person. It is very fashionable now to love all humanity, or at least to say you do. Loving people in the abstract is easy, since it costs nothing and we never have to act on it. It’s hard to love one person however, because the standards of love are so high. To quote St. Paul in the bible,
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
Beautiful words, almost incandescent words that can never be put out. They cannot be discredited because they are so obviously true, and they epitomize the meaning of ‘love’.
No matter how hard we try, we just can’t seem to live up to the love described here, certainly not on a daily basis, probably not even for an hour. Truth be told, we don’t really try that often at all- our own failings and the failings in the object of our love throw a wet blanket over our better feelings, that innocent love.
What about those moments..? You know the ones I mean, even if we only experience it once in our lives, I firmly believe everyone, regardless of circumstances experiences a moment where we love humanity almost line-by-line like the passage above. It could be as we witness suffering like the Tsunami in 2004 or more recently and closer to home, like the fires in Fort McMurray. Maybe in seeing the first responders risking their own lives on 9/11, or watching teens cheering for another teen with an intellectual disability. You could experience it in the beaming face of a bride on her wedding day. It could also be in a moment when your group of friends is breaking up geographically, probably never to see each other in the same place ever again, like after college or when mustering out of the army.
At that moment it becomes clear- patience and kindness come into focus, while envy, boasting and pride fade into nothing. Past anger disappears, the record of an individual or group is suddenly swept clean. We want the best for everyone: We love humanity. Not in the abstract or with careless words, but at that moment we are ready to give our lives for the salvation and good of others. Picture one of those moments in your mind before you read any further. Ready?
If you ever wondered what Christians mean by “the love of Christ”? this is it. That feeling you get once in a blue moon is what Jesus displayed every day we witnessed Him on earth and continues to have toward us, with one big difference. For us, we have this feeling for a moment and then it is gone. With Christ, “Love never fails”. We are on rare occasion shown a glimpse of the true and perpetual love of God for humanity in our own extremely limited version of it; call it ‘love-lite’. The love of Christ for each one of us is not based in ignorance of what we are really like, but in full knowledge of the weaknesses and the willful and deep-seated pride in each person.
“Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account” -Hebrews 4:13
Would you give your life for humanity?
Jesus did. Imagine what that love is like- picture Him on the cross saying “forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing“. Then imagine what it is like to be the object of that love. The creator and sustainer of the universe, crucified by humanity, loving you.
Director, Reasonable Faith Montreal chapter
Excerpt from Suggested reading: The Four Loves (C.S. Lewis)
“When we see the face of God we shall know that we have always known it. He has been a party to, has made, sustained and moved moment by moment within, all our earthly experiences of innocent love. All that was true love in them was, even on earth, far more His than ours, and ours only because His.”