Love is personal. Love does not place people into categories; rather, it sees each person as the unique being they are.
Five years ago, I met the wife of a detained immigrant man. She reached out to me for help: transportation to work and an immigration lawyer. I called a local church who enthusiastically promoted their social justice programs. When I spoke to their pastor, the response was merely: “Well we have women’s Bible study she could join.”
While Bible study is vital, and this lady may have wanted the kind of help the pastor claimed to give, his solution revealed their true mission. That was disappointing.
What happened to the churches who do the work of love? What happened to churches who do something outside the box of “programs?”
This approach is better: “Love is for today, programs are for the future.” People not only need verses about help, they need real help! They need someone who values their human dignity—the image of God—and responds accordingly.
We moved on, persisted, and, with a different church, found help for this mother of three.
When we see beyond the surface of a person’s life, we see who they really are. Below the exterior, we see their sacred humanity, we value them, we love them, and we see Christ in them. When we see others as they are, we say thank you to the waitress when our meal is late, we are respectful to customer service when our statements are wrong, and we go out of our way to say a friendly “hi” to our neighbors and colleagues. We become the “expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness in your warm greeting.”
The only goal that causes self-disentanglement is altruistic love. Meeting the need of another human makes you, you. “I become I through you.” You are most you when you love. Primal love is the solitary and universal way that frees humanity to become true.
You meet the need of another when you see that person beyond the outside. And when you see their uniqueness, there is always more to them than you can perceive. The human person is eternal mystery. Made in the image of God, a human being can never be fully known. This is what makes love’s joy endless.
Love frees us to be true to the eternity of joy. “There are six things that never come to an end: knowing and loving yourself, your neighbor, and God. Since people are subjects and not objects, they are not exhaustible.” 2 Only subjects are infinite in value. We need God, we need others, we need ourselves. That means that our love has infinite possibilities.
**From the book: Opening Happiness