The Mystery of Love and Grace

Pastor Marvin Arnpriester

Barbara Brown Taylor wrote the following, which continues to haunt and nag at me. I trust it will do the same for you.

“The hardest spiritual work in the world is to love the neighbor as the self—to encounter another human being, not as someone you can use, change, fix, help, save, enroll, convince, or control, but simply as someone who can spring you from the prison of yourself, if you will allow it.”

I believe the only way I can do this is remembering Jesus told us to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. Then we are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. That means, in some way, to accept them fully as they are, not as we wish them to be, or change them in some way to meet our desires.

Loving our neighbor means letting go of our expectations for them and embracing them as they are, as a child of God as we are children of God. It is so hard to accept others exactly as they are, especially when I don’t happen to agree with them and want my perspective to prevail. It is hard to live and let live so the truth can emerge, not as I define it, but as it really is.

Living in a diverse world, with all the factors challenging us today, is easy. It calls for a sensitive spirit, caring heart, and listening attitude to make sure I am loving others as I, myself, am loved and accepted by God.

May God continue to work the mystery of grace and love in my life and yours.