Faith Column: There’s no ‘I’ in love
Jesus loves you. Just kidding.
I totally believe he does, but there’s no way I’d ever try to make a point about love like that. There’s a reason for it.
Such a statement, which I’m sure you’ve heard dozens of times, emphasizes the highly individual and personal nature of faith.
You see examples of that style of religion everywhere, like in the T-shirts that were popular a couple of years ago that read, “Jesus is my homeboy.” It’s all about you and Jesus. People sometimes like to be reminded of that. I’m not suggesting that the phrase should be banned. It has value.
But, if the notion that Jesus loves the individual is all that Christians focus their thoughts, prayers and conversations on, then the reason why he lived is basically forgotten. Jesus didn’t exist so we can simply dwell on how much he loves us. In my opinion, which is likely wrong at some basic theological level, one of the reasons Jesus came was to show humanity what it looked like for a human to live fully in communion with God and others.
It’s just like the ancient Israelites. Moses wrote in Genesis that God told Abraham (whose descendants became the Israelites), “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (12:2-3).
The reason God picked Israel as the “chosen people” wasn’t so they could simply dwell on how amazing God is. It was so Israel could bless the rest of the world.
Similarly, Christ spent 33 years intensely loving people. According to the Bible, he spent most of his time communing with the “scum” of Israel: the Samaritan, the poor, the tax collector, the leper, the woman. His actions, which often consisted of just eating with them, confronted classism, sexism and racism.
He died on the cross. If what the authors of the Bible said is true, then his selflessness allowed for the world’s redemption. He poured out his entire life for others.
One only needs to listen to the lyrics of Drake, Kanye West and The Weeknd to realize that we’re all deeply flawed beings.
Money, fame and relationships obviously don’t solve the problem. Don’t worry, my contention isn’t just that we all need to pray for forgiveness and fix our eyes on God, which is what many faith-based writers would conclude.
That’s a possibility, sure, but it’s a different conversation. I’m not going to preach at you.
Instead, we need to follow Christ’s example, even if you’re not a Christian. He showed what can happen when we prioritize others and love people more than ourselves. His legacy changed the world. He showed that it is possible to elevate the needs of others.
It’s like the African philosophy of ubuntu, which says, “I am what I am because of who we all are.”
Jesus didn’t live to make us personally happy. He lived to show us that true fulfilment comes when we love one another.
Ultimately, Jesus loves you and me so that we can love others. It’s cyclical.