Loving God & Everybody Full-Time
I was reading Thich Nhat Hanh's fantastic book Coming Home, an exploration of the intersections between Christianity and Buddhism when I came across Hanh's excellent teaching on Jesus' Great Commandment:
This is the true meaning of loving God with all your might. You do not reserve for that object of your love only a few minutes or one hour a day. You have to devote twenty-four hours to touching the Kingdom of God, to touching the ultimate dimension that is deep in you. You can only love your God with all your might when you are really a full-time student or practitioner.
First of all, this teaching comes from one of the great Buddhist teachers of our time, who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by none other than Martin Luther King, Jr.
It's also one of the most challenging and convicting things I've ever read about what it means to follow Jesus and to keep the Great Commandment.
I've been thinking about this since I read it this past summer, and I have to admit the weight of this particular teaching is both troubling and exciting.
Consider these bits, for example:
"You have to devote twenty-four hours to touching the Kingdom of God... You can only love your God with all your might when you are really a full-time student or practitioner."
Seriously? How is that even possible?
What does it even look like to touch the Kingdom of God twenty-four hours a day? To devote yourself full-time to keeping the Great Commandment?
I'm beginning to understand how it might be possible. Still, even that understanding is difficult to grasp, mainly when so much about our lives is divided, segmented, and siloed.
This segmented way of being results in disconnection, separation, and division not just within us but also without us as we bump up against the many people in our lives who we struggle to understand, much less love as God does.
But Hahn is right. It can be done. We can make loving God and loving everybody a way of life.
For me, it all comes down to desire and intention. If we truly desire our world to be a better place and to growingly resemble what "heaven on earth" might look like, we should want to set our intentions toward making that a reality.
In other words, we begin to think about how to show God's love and make God's Kingdom visible all the time. We let our desire permeate our thoughts and actions; we seek to shine the light of Christ wherever we go.
Our intentions can then become habits, and our practices can become second nature, and before we know it, we are simply living, speaking, and acting in ways that embody God's Kingdom to everyone we meet.
In what ways are you showing heaven on earth to the people in your life? How are you practicing your life of faith, so that love of God and others is quite simply your rule and not your exception?
May you discover new ways to make the Great Commandment a way of life. May you become Kingdom-minded and Kingdom-oriented. May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and forever. Amen.