Love as Decision, Not Feeling

The basic Christian command is love. Over and over, Jesus instructs his followers: “Love one another as I have loved you. … Love your neighbor as yourself. … Love your enemies. We can gussy it up all we want and list all sorts of complicated things we have to do to be good Christians, but the fundamental command is quite simple: Love.

One of the things that makes such a simple command so difficult to us is that we tend to think of love as the warm, gushy feeling we have for our family and friends, those who are good to us. That makes the idea of loving our enemies a formidable one.

But the Christian command to love is much easier when we understand that the love of which Jesus speaks is not a feeling. Richard Rohr expresses it well:

We must learn to move beyond ourselves, to set limits on our own needs and somehow to meet other peoples’ needs. We actually need to do this for our own good! That’s why Jesus commanded us to love—to get us started. So love is not a feeling, but a decision, yet a decision that increases our inner freedom each time we do it. You will know this only after you act on love.

Jesus didn’t say when you get healed, love; when you grow up, love; when you get it together and have dealt with all your wounds, then love. No, the commandment for all of us is quite simply, “Love!” Once we know it is not a feeling, but a grace empowered decision, we can all do it. And each time it is a growth in freedom—and flow.

So it is simple. Make the grace empowered decision to love. Love now. Love always.