Love one another as I have loved you. (John 13:34)
Unconditional agape love. That’s how God loves us; that’s how we’re called to love one another.
To be honest, that’s hard.
Consider that line from that Billy Joel song: “I love you just the way you are.” Think about the people that you love, whether it’s your romantic love interest, children, siblings, parents, friends… Consider whether you can truly say, “I love you just the way you are.”
Because that’s how God loves us. Just the way we are. We do not have to be perfect for God to love us. God loves us just the way we are. And there is tremendous freedom in that.
Spiritual teacher and mystic Anthony de Mello, S.J. (1931-1987) wrote a beautiful parable on this in The Song of the Bird.
I resented them and I agreed with them, and I wanted to change, but simply couldn’t, no matter how hard I tried.
Then one day someone said to me, Don’t change. I love you just as you are.
Those words were music to my ears: Don’t change, Don’t change. Don’t change . . . I love you as you are.
I relaxed. I came alive. And suddenly I changed!*
De Mello concludes by asking: Is this how you love me, God?