To be loved as to love
I am preparing a class on the St. Francis prayer. This prayer while not necessarily straight from St. Francis is a portrait of the life he led. This was his life. From the moment he saw his first vision until his death he lived the words of this prayer. He was and still is a vibrant example of the gospel life. While this prayer may or may not be original with St. Francis it describes not only who St. Francis was, but also what a life following Christ really looks like.
I would like to reflect on each line. I have posted my thoughts on this prayer once before and you can find that blog here: https://godwrestler.wordpress.com/2011/10/06/a-personal-look-at-the-st-francis-prayer
I may even write a book based on this prayer.
We are now moving into the second half of this prayer. In the second half, the prayer goes deeper into what it means to pray and live the first seven imperatives. The ninth line of this prayer is asking that we love others above and before we ask to be loved, that to love others is more important than it is to be loved. As we love others, we ourselves find the same thing we offer to others. It also helps us to step out of personal want and need to meet others in their brokenness. The ninth line of the St. Francis Prayer is about being a presence of God’s love and grace to a broken, dark world perishing. It’s not about dying for others but to be a living presence for others who are struggling. There will be times when praying this prayer that we need God’s love, hope, and peace in our life, as much if not more than we want to share these aspects of the Kingdom with others. God won’t zap us with these attitudes, but will give us moments in which to experience them in our life and the lives of those around us.
Most people will say they want love. A common saying is ‘Where’s the love.’ The answer this line says is with us. It asks that we not worry about being loved or finding love, but just love. In the very act of loving others, we find the love we want. If we want love, we must become the very thing we are looking for. We love others not for what we might gain, but for love’s sake itself. We love because God loves us. J.M. Barrie said, “Always try to be a little kinder than is necessary.”
God loves you! Do you believe this! This can be incredible to believe and some cannot believe this. In the truth of this sentiment are hope, light, grace, and endurance. Embracing God’s love for us enables us better become the persons God intended us to be from the beginning.
The Gospel of John gives us a new commandment to love.
1 John says God is love.
Galatians 5 sums up the entire law as love your neighbor as yourself.
Love is the heart of the Christian faith. To be a Christian is to love. By loving others, loving everyone we become Children of God. Love is our purpose and our reason for being in the world. We show others the love that has already been lavished on us by God. It’s sad that a vast number of non-Christians don’t see Christians as loving. It is not their fault, but ours and it is something we need to start doing. We need to love first. We need to renew our call to love, to make it the core of our faith. It is not always easy to love or accept love. I have written about my problems in loving others. I suppose you too have your problems with loving others. Everyone has people or groups they have a tough time showing love, but that is not an excuse not to love. Jesus never gave us a list of people that we cannot love. He simply said love. If loving others weren’t so difficult than it wouldn’t be such a noble, transforming pursuit.
Love is something we all want. I know I do. I pray that we who hope for love will soon find the love we yearn so much for, but in the meantime let us commit to loving everyone. If we want love, we need to love. Love is not something outside of us, but something we are deeply in our inner being.
Know that God loves you and in this knowing extend the very same love that God has lavished on you.
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