“The Greatest Love” – February 14, 2012
As I write these words it is Valentine’s Day, and it is also the days after we all heard the shocking news of the death of Whitney Houston. The juxtaposition of those two events is really hard to overlook. Whitney Houston sang a beautiful song about “The Greatest Love” as our ability to learn to love ourselves. Valentine’s Day is a beautiful holiday about loving those who love us. Both events miss the point of the teachings of Jesus.
Jesus taught (in his Sermon on the Mount) that if we simply love those who loves us, there is no big credit in that. Everyone loves those who love them, even the most evil and devious persons somehow learn to love those who love them. Jesus said that his followers must exceed that limited understanding of love. He taught us to love God first, and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.
Whitney’s sad life is a witness to how hard it is to love ourselves. Her beautiful voice and life devolved into a familiar pattern of self-destruction which has plagued so many other celebrities. It is almost haunting to hear the recordings of her singing about “The Greatest Love.”
How do we achieve that kind of appropriate self-love? I believe Jesus shows us the way. Learning to love ourselves appropriately comes only as we first discover the depth of God’s love for us. Once we know we are loved, that we are lovable, then we can be so filled with God’s love that we are able to love ourselves, our neighbors, and God.
So, it is good to tell those who love us that we also love them. Too many people go through life without ever hearing from their loved ones that they are loved.
But let us not stop there. Let us learn to receive the wonderful and complete love of God who enables us to love ourselves appropriately and to love one another generously.
The love of God is truly the greatest love of all.