The kind of love a Christian should have for others is specific and purposeful.
Everyone has a need to be loved, without exception. But not all people and cultures understand love the same way. What’s specific to the Christian concept of love? What did Jesus mean when he invited us to love as He loves?
Christian love has four aspects, according to the founder of the Focolare movement, Chiara Lubich. She said that if we manage to practice even one of these aspects, it’s already enough for us to reach holiness.
1Be the first to love
This means always loving actively, taking the initiative to do good to others—not in an abstract way, but in concrete, real ways, by serving others, right now. Within the Holy Trinity, the Holy Spirit, the love that flows between God the Father and God the Son, is dynamic love—and we need to imitate the Trinity.
We all have many opportunities to love. We run into many people each day, and we have to love all of them, and see Jesus in each of the people that we meet, without distinction of any kind. That makes everything simpler. Divisions enslave us; unity frees us.
3Love our neighbor as ourselves
When we deal with other people, we need to love them as we love ourselves. For example, if we’re having lunch at home with a family member, and we see there’s only one yogurt in the refrigerator and we know we both want it, what should we do? Share it—or even let the other person have the whole thing.
4Love our enemies
Love isn’t always easy. There are many challenges in our relationships at work, in our own family, and with our friends. Sometimes, people attack us, hurt us, or simply treat us with indifference. Jesus invites us to love those people too. This may be the most difficult part of Christian love …
In the words of Chiara herself: “Loving our brothers and sisters, individually and collectively: loving our neighbors one by one and respecting people of every nation gives rise to a radical change in mentality, to a completely new way of life. If we all did this, the earth would already be a Paradise.”