Love at first sight?

As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ 18 Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. 19 You know the commandments: “You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.”‘ 20 He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.’ 21 Jesus, looking at him, loved him. (Mark 10:17-21a).

Do you believe in love at first sight? I don’t just believe in it, I’ve seen it. In fact I’ve experienced it, multiple times. There are just some people you meet, and you know instantly that they’re on your wavelength, that you want to relate to them. It’s not always sexual; I’ve felt like this about men, women, whole families, places, works of art. Something just fits. On the other hand, I’ve met people I didn’t think much of at first sight, but whom I instantly knew were going to be important in my life. One of them, I’ve been married to for 25 years!

I don’t see any reason why Jesus shouldn’t have had this common human experience. Yes, at a spiritual level he loved, and loves, everyone infinitely. But at a human level, there must have been people – and indeed we know there were people – whom he just felt drawn to more than to others. ‘Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus’ (John 10:5). ‘One of his disciples — the one whom Jesus loved — was reclining next to him’ (John 13:21).

What should we make of this apparent ‘favouritism’? If Jesus apparently loved, or at least liked, some people more than others, does that mean it’s all right for us to do the same? And does it mean he still prefers some of us to others – and if so, on what does he base that love or lack of it? Scary stuff…

Perhaps we should take a lesson from the figure representing God the Father in The Shack, who frequently remarks that she is ‘especially fond of’ X or Y’. But when asked whether there is anyone she is not ‘especially fond of’, she is unable to name any – she is ‘especially fond of’ absolutely everyone. Or to put it another way, I think God loves every single one of us exactly the same amount (which is unlimited) but each in a totally individual way according to how God has created us. Just as a good parent, in fact, does not love any one of her children more or less than the others, but at the same time, loves each in a different way.

As human beings, there are always going to be people we like or love more than others, and that there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Only in the new heavens and new earth, when we are fully who we are meant to be, will we be able, like God, to be ‘especially fond’ of absolutely everyone – to love everyone to the same degree, but each one in an individual and totally different way. In the meantime, we will always have people we don’t warm to, or positively dislike. And when Jesus told us to love our enemies, perhaps as well as those who actively seek to do us harm, he also meant those people who have never done us any harm at all, but whom we just find irritating or unattractive or uninteresting. Maybe those are the very ones we are meant to love ‘at second, third, or umpteenth, however unwelcome, sight’. God give us the gift of being able to…

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About veronicazundel

I'm a professional writer and amateur mother, and belong to the only (so far) non-conservative, English-speaking, Mennonite church in the UK. I live in north London with my husband, adult son and a fat fluffy cat. I eat Marmite on matzo crackers every morning.
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