If we are truly in love with God, then the basics are not going to be enough. That love is going to want to be expressed in going above and beyond, in leaving the comfortable and familiar, in stretching and growing, and in following a voice other than our own. St. Teresa of Calcutta rightly instructs us that for “love to be real, it must cost, it must hurt, it must empty us of self.” Being in love with God requires more than just checking the boxes of the commandments. It requires a sincere and unconditional self-investment. Desiring God with our whole heart, mind, and soul means that I must also desire a relationship with my neighbor with that same degree of fervor.
Biases and prejudices usually occur when people are kept at a distance and treated as objects. We cannot truly know our neighbors, especially if they are different than us, if we keep them in boxes and do not listen to their stories. When we open ourselves to listen to another person’s story, we begin to realize more how similar we are than dissimilar. Being overly attached to our possessions, ideologies, agendas, lifestyles, and personal needs are absolute barriers to achieving the type of personal investment love demands. This is why following Christ can be difficult. It is less a matter of intellect and more a matter of heart and soul. It requires that we transfer our treasure from an investment in tangible secular things and move it into the Kingdom of God. It is only the gift of wisdom and discernment that can help us decide what to do and how to do it.
Contemporaries of Jesus would know that a camel could not enter through the portal of a city weighed down with the baggage it was carrying. In order to enter, the baggage must be removed so that the animal could fit through the entry way. The same is true for us. We carry a lot of excessive baggage around with us that keeps us tethered to our past histories, wounds, myopic world views, prejudices, fears, and suspicions. To invest ourselves in the Kingdom of God, do God’s work and live out our love relationship with God, we need to shed the extra weight. While it may seem that a lot of that stuff is necessary, it really is not. We are much more than the things that we think define us and more secure than we think. The more there is to hold on to and the more that we carry with us, the harder it will be to leave it all behind. Many choose not to and walk away sad because they are not ready to trust.
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