But I always think that the best way to know God is to love many things. ~Vincent van Gogh
I believe that anything involving religion, or anything religion says or does, is simply a way to bring God down to “ground level”, when His natural place is in the penthouse suite. An original thought? Hardly. But a thought nonetheless.
I’ve noticed that any talk about God, any argument regarding Him, inevitably “shrinks” or anthropomorphizes him to the point where he’s just that dude in the sky. Holy books ascribe to him a face, a body, emotions. Preachers say that God is “angry.”
I propose that God has a single human quality (or rather we have a single Godly quality), and that is the most perfect of them all: love.
Nothing else about humans is perfect. Our power of reason is lacking, our bodies prone to sickness and pain, our greed and anger and hate and lust all just harm us.
But we can love. We humans, as flawed and as miserable as we are, possess a single Godly quality that we could use to change the world. We. Can. Love.
I’m not talking about loving money, or loving someone’s body – those are more accurately called “greed” and “lust” and that isn’t love at all. They’re just our human nature rather than our Godly nature.
I’m talking about looking at your husband or wife or brother or sister or uncle or aunt or son or daughter or a total stranger off the street, and thinking “that person is a unique and beautiful creation of God, imperfect but worthy of care, and I will take care of him/her.”
And why stop with loving a person? I have a very dear friend whose dog saved her life. Some people love animals just as much as people. Animals are unique and beautiful creations of God, too.
How can this change the world? Because when you love people, truly and honestly, it’s amazing how much doesn’t matter. Your time, your money, your petty concerns and arrangements – I find they all fall away. I’ve experienced very few moments of pure love, but those that I have experienced have knocked me down. They’re amazing. I would choose to live that way all the time if I could.
What does love involve? Not sex. Not persecution. Not power.
Love involves protection, trust, care, and selflessness. Which can lead to some hard choices – because sometimes love involves putting someone in jail to protect other people. Sometimes it involves trusting someone when you’ve been hurt more times than you can count. Sometimes it involves putting someone else’s problems above your own. Sometimes it means going to a third-world country to help people who can’t help themselves.
Now, I’m not saying that you can’t care about yourself, because you are a unique and beautiful creation too, and deserve to be treated like one – even by yourself. You are allowed to care for and love yourself as well as other people. I don’t think any true God would say differently.
But loving yourself in order to be healthy, and loving yourself to the exclusion of others, are two different things. In order to be balanced, we must do both.
This is my conclusion: love is the purest thing we have to offer God. Loving ourselves, others, and God is the best form of worship.
To quote an occasionally wise book of sayings, “What you do to the least of my people, you do to me.”