Jesus’ command to love hasn’t escaped my notice. When asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus agreed that it was to love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves. It seems so clear, yet, I find it difficult.
As I spend time with the spiritual masters (and I include John Wesley in that category) I find they keep returning to love as the goal of the spiritual life. Is that what it is really all about? Love? To be honest, that was kind of a let down. I would venture that most people would say they love, and love well. So, why spend so much time focusing on love if we already love?
Wesley has help me see that the love he was taking about, Jesus talked about and the spiritual masters talked about is of a different degree (Wesley’s word) or quality (my word) than what I usually experience or practice. Wesley believed that being perfect was being perfect in love; a love that wasn’t marred by human sin (jealousy, self-will, pride, greed, etc.). It is a pure love. The kind of love that Jesus displayed when he prayed, “Not my will but yours.” The kind of love we see on the cross. The kind of love that is characterized by grace, compassion, patience, and self-denial.
I realize, now, I love poorly. So my prayer has become, “Jesus teach me to love.” After all, that is the goal.