The Love of Jesus

April 20th, 2011 / 75 Comments

Jesus Christ is rightly regarded as the most important person for helping us understand love.  Especially at this time of year, it seems wise to ponder the love of Jesus.

Jesus lived about two thousand years ago in present-day Israel and Palestine.  Almost all that is known about Jesus comes from the New Testament.  Four books – Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John – are accounts of his birth, life, ministry, death, and resurrection.  In other New Testament books and in writings produced in the past two millennia, many have interpreted and developed Jesus’ love legacy.

Jesus drew upon teachings from his Jewish heritage to offer what many consider the central insight of his ministry.  Matthew records this insight in these words: “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment.  And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”  Jesus adds, “Upon these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Mt. 22:37-40).  Mark’s version of the same insight concludes with Jesus adding that there are no greater commandment than these two (Mk. 12:31).

In the book of Luke, Jesus is asked what must be done to inherit eternal life.  Jesus answers with these same two love commandments.  The questioner responds to Jesus, however, by asking who one’s neighbor might be. 

The answer Jesus gave this second question came in the form of a story.  Jesus tells of a man who is robbed, beaten, stripped, and left to die.  Two religious people passed by the victim, but these religious people ignored the opportunity to help.  However, an impure outsider – a Samaritan – came to the injured man’s aide, cared for his wounds, and found him a place of safety.  In this story, the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus suggests that a neighbor is any person in obvious need.  All other laws — including religious ones — are secondary to the law of love (Lk. 10:25-37).

Matthew records Jesus saying, “In everything, do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets” (Mt. 7:12).  The point Jesus makes is not that the laws and the words of the prophets are useless.  Rather, Jesus is suggesting that love is their culmination or overarching guide.  Matthew later records Jesus inviting his followers to love as inclusively as God, for God sends sunshine and rain on the good and bad indiscriminately (Mt 5:43-48). 

The apostle Paul, the most important witness for the Christian movement emerging after Jesus, picks up and promotes Jesus’ idea that love is the fulfillment of the law.  “Owe no one anything,” Paul writes to the Christians in Rome, “except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.  The commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet;’ and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  Loves does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law” (Rm. 13:8-10; see also, Gal. 5:14).

According to Jesus, the neighbor and others who should be loved include those whom some people might consider unlovable.  In fact, Jesus commands his followers to love enemies.  “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy,’” Jesus declares.  “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Mt. 6:43-44). 

Luke’s account of the command to love enemies involves Jesus saying that his followers should “love your enemies and do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you….  Love your enemies, do good, and lend, anticipating nothing in return.  Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.  Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Lk. 6:27-28, 35-36).  In this, Jesus is saying that his listeners will imitate God when expressing love even for those who oppose them.

Jesus says that those who love the neediest will be rewarded.  The king will say, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundations of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me…. Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me” (Mt. 25:34-36, 40).  Jesus advocates love for those sometimes considered unlovely.

In his own actions, Jesus demonstrated that followers should also love the downtrodden, outcasts, and marginalized.  Jesus showed love by washing feet, giving to the poor, listening to and blessing children, resisting retaliation, and feeding the hungry.  He was moved with compassion for the sick, lame, and hungry.  He associated with the social outcasts, such tax collectors, Samaritans, women, and non-Jews.  Breaking with social norms, Jesus voluntarily assumed the social role of a servant.

At times, Jesus praised and promoted self-sacrificial love.  “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.  No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (Jn. 15:12, 13). 

At Easter, Christians especially reflect on Jesus death and resurrection. Jesus’ death on the cross is the prime example of self-sacrificial love.  Jesus’ death benefits others.  The apostle Paul says, “God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us” (Rm. 5:8). Jesus’ love is cruciform.

Jesus tells those who want to follow his lifestyle that they should follow his example of love.  “By this all will know that you are my disciples,” says Jesus, “if you have love for one another” (Jn 13:35).  Later in the New Testament writings, the Apostle Paul says that Jesus should be the example for those who want to love as God loves.  “Be imitators of God, as beloved children,” writes Paul, “and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us” (Eph. 5:1, 2).

Jesus’ life, words, death, and resurrection have been an inspiration to many throughout history who seek to understand and express love. Especially this holy week, I pause to ponder – and to imitate – the love of Jesus.

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Comments

Todd Holden

As a pastor, I think about this very thing quite often. As I ponder back on my pastoral training, I recall being taught that programs were necessary and that a “successful” pastor was one who could “grow” the church and make it big and thus meaningful.

God has taught me many things, I am thankful that I have learned that when I think about what I am “to do” as the pastor here, I must think first of how whatever I am thinking of shows the love of God? How does what I am thinking of encourage others to know the love of God?

At this time of year especially I regularly encourage the church here to look at where they are already at and ask themselves, “How am I loving people as God loves me?” I am constantly tempted to lean on a program or think up an ingenious plan to promote the church. Yet, I know that our God knows the way and the only way for me is to love God and let Him love me so I love those around me most fully.

If I live to be 100, I will still be learning how to love others more completely as I continually discover how vast our God’s love is for me.


Paul DeBaufer

So, I have to wonder, okay maybe I don’t wonder so much as have formed or come to the opinion that God reveals Godself and what He wants from us within faith communities. Then maybe these faith communities wrestle with the revelation, what God has said and how to communicate that revelation to posterity and other faith communities. I am, therefore, of the opinion that God revealed that we are to love and the faith communities which then tried to codify love and came up with the Law, a statement of what love looks like in view of how you don’t treat one another. Kind of like the Great Rabbi Hillel’s statement, “That which is hateful to you don’t do to others, this is the Law all the rest is commentary,” which Jesus restates in the positive. Jesus seems to state the totality of the Law in the positive too, Love! Love God, love everybody else even those who despise you.


Graham Andrews

Looking at Jesus for examples of love is an amazing and sometimes frustrating task. In no doubt was He the perfect representation of love even when it came to loving his enemies. This is what I and I think others struggle with from time to time.  Its so easy to love people whom you have nothing against or who like already, but for those that rub us the wrong way, that’s a different story. For example, if someone was to walk into my parent’s house and kill my mother, the last thing I would want to do would be to forgive him and say that Jesus loved him still. I would rather take a shotgun and shoot both his kneecaps, douse him with gasoline and then light a match engulfing the bastard in flames. Now I’m not saying that this would be in anyway right, but it just goes to show you the magnitude in which Jesus loved all people by being able to forgive his enemies.


Ashley Duvall

This blog ties in nicely with the last blog, “Love, Exemplars, and brain structure II.“In the last blog I discussed how I am no where near being and exampler, but I believe that God is forgiving and will love you no matter what you have done; this action of forgiveness is so powerful. I do not posses enough forgiveness for those around me; that is yet another weakness that I obtain!


Kelsie Thorngren

With Jesus’ death on the cross and the self-sacrificial love He embodied, I think it’s important to remember the self-sacrificial love of His Father in Heaven as well.  I don’t think it’s intentional, but I feel that the Father’s love has, sometimes, been overshadowed by Christ’s love on the cross.  While being triune, God the Father and God the Son were also separate at that time.  When I think about that, I wonder which sacrifice was harder.  Not that one has to be harder than the other, but was the loss of His own life, greater than God the Father’s witnessing of His Son’s trial, beating, betrayal by other, mocking, pain and death? 
I think, through the Cross and Resurrection, we can learn and practice the self-sacrificial love of the Son, and also, the sacrificial love of the Father.  I think this double representation of love adds to the relationality of who God is and allows for even greater insight into how we love in community and in the world.


Amanda Preston

This blog really correlates with our extra mile love project. With this project I learned, I do not love and do random acts of kindness enough. This is something I plan on changing in the future. I believe how God loves is something we should model our love after. The hardest part of loving how God loves is Loving your enemy. This is a struggle for me and I am sure with others. I believe this is the area we as a society struggle with the most.


Darci Curtin

Ever since I was a young girl, one of my very favorite things about the Christian religion and going to church has been the love that people have shown to me. Growing up and going to church on Sundays, I always looked forward to seeing specific people- probably even more than I looked forward to a sermon.
After just recently seeing the movie Les Miserables, I have been thinking a lot about the character of a Christian man or woman. It is incredible for me to watch myself as well as close friends and members of my close family grow in faith and I can sense change in motives as well as personalities. It is amazing how the love of Jesus can change a person, they focus on loving and helping others rather than selfish and egotistical motives. 
It is interesting to ponder Jesus’ love. The fact that each person is so incredibly different and he still loves each one of us equally is difficult to wrap my mind around. As humans, and especially as women, we tend to complicate things much more than is necessary. Sometimes I need to remind myself to step back and look at the big picture and not get so caught up in small details that do not matter in the end. When it comes down to it, Christ loves us each equally, not matter what. This blog was a good reminder of this.


Teagan Cameron

Jesus is really one to be admired. Not just because he is the son of God and perfect and all that, but because of the way he loved. It is crazy to think that He got tempted by everything us humans struggle with and yet he was not only able to rise above them all but do it with love. Like I said in the last blog I really feel like love is like snow to the Eskimos; there are 50 different kinds for numerous situations. It is crazy to think about all the ways that he acted lovingly and how each is a different kind of love. It is so difficult to live just like Jesus; always loving and caring about people….such an inspiration.


Alicia

Loving those who persecute you and those who are the neediest is definitely an emulation of Jesus as you mention above. Doing so shows a selfless form of love which Jesus showed as well through similar instances, and even went as far as you mentioned- dying on the cross. Sacrificial and selfless love are two forms of love that I believe are instilled in us from God. I know that sometimes we don’t achieve the potential that God sees in us, but I know that he works on our hearts to see this, recognize it, and helps us to make ourselves better at it in order to be more like him.


Noah Chance

Love is an amazing and versatile word, concept, and action. Jesus emulated the meaning of this word. The one concept most talked about in the Bible is not about damnation, justice for the wicked, but instead on love and how that love is expressed through God , Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. This love is aimed right at us and should be directed back to God and onto others. Love especially towards those we see as “enemies” is one of the hardest to do because we want justice and justification because it in a backwards sense confirms what we do or don’t do makes us better.


Tara McClees

Jesus is our ultimate role model when it comes to love. But why is it we still ostracize those who he would have shown love to? We perceive those in need as “deserving it” for some reason or another. We ignore them or judge them for not “earning” their own resources. Even more difficult we find it to love someone who is a jerk or holds different opinions than ours.


Jennifer Yearsley

•  Jesus’ lays out the commandment of how to win the heart of God and that is to love. Love your God with all your heart mind and soul and love your neighbor as yourself. When we do these things we will (for the most part) live in ways that appeal to God’s kingdom. This blog really challenges me to want to be more loving to those who are in need and not see myself as better off than they are. Jesus said do to the least of these as you would for me. I know I struggle with these commandments and need to be humble and let God’s love overpower me and not worry what others may think about me if I love those who are not loved by the general population.


Amanda Peutz

The story of the Good Samaritan has always been an inspirational piece for me. The fact that the religious figures walked right by the injured man was a powerful image. Here they were believed to be men of God, but when they had the opportunity to love as Jesus would have loved—they failed. This story taught me how everyone deserves to be loved which is exactly what God calls us to do. We need to keep in mind what we are called to do and if our actions are demonstrating that or not.


Grady Turner

I agree with your point that Christ Jesus is the best example for helping us understand love.  I think the idea that we can learn to understand what and how love works through example is often overlooked. Too often we just want a definition that gives us the bread and butter of how to love. I don’t mean to say that having a definition of love is a bad thing, but I would argue that the definition of love and learning love through examples are two sides of the same coin. I was intrigued by your discussion of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. I realized that by loving your enemies and praying for those who persecute you can cause one of two outcomes. First, it can cause the person that you witnessed to have a change of heart or it can heap guilt upon them because of their unjust actions.


Patrick Patterson

The love of Jesus is, as you said is the most important person in helping us understand love.  Easter is such a significant date, for Christians especially, in that Jesus showed everyone the ultimate example of self-sacrificial love.  Jesus’ death on the cross was a way of proving his love for us and it truly was the most prime example of self-sacrificial love that I can think of.  I think God is the perfect representation of what love is and we should model or our love after him the best we humanly can!


leslie warwick

I think that when Jesus calls us to love as he loved and that no greater love can be shown than to lay down your own life for a friend. I believe a lot of people think that the problem is not dying for a friend but finding the right friend to die for. There is this problem here that is it the right time and place. We constantly think of if we wait just a little bit longer then our loving action will mean more. I believe this mindset needs to change. I believe that we should kill with kindness, the more love we show the more we can impact through giving them a reason to hope and a reason to love and a reason to want to do good.


lisah malika

Lately, I’ve been seeing the topic of love everywhere. Love is unavoidable in the best way possible. As I read the first two paragraphs of this blog, I thought of Paul and how much of his work centers on Christ’s love (his love for us and vice versa), and our love for one another. Paul argued in a majority of his letter that Love is the fulfillment of the law. I believe that Paul desired for the churches that he wrote to, to truly understand what Christ love does and did for them. The churches at that time were so consumed with following the law that they forgot the love of Jesus. I think it is necessary to meditate on what love looks like through the eyes of Jesus. It is only when do this that we will be able to understand love itself.


Amina Chinnell-Mateen

I love the sections of verses you used from scripture that show and remind us how we are to love. Since Jesus was the ultimate example of love and what it looked like, I think sometimes we can become discouraged and be unsure or feel inadequate because we merely are human. But I think when we learn how to imintate his behaviors like taking care of the poor, helping reconcile things here in the world etc. We fully learn and embrace what it is his mission was. Love can be a scary a thing especially one where we are called to life even our enemies but it is a point worth accepting and moving toward, if Jesus did it for us as humans it won’t be easy but it will be worth it.


Daniel Parker

Jesus’ parable of the good Samaritan is probably one of the most told parables of Jesus and, most likely, the most contextually out of place in our culture. I hear so many people talk about the good samaritan and how we should act like he did, but the impact of the parable is blunted by the fact that to the original hearers the Samaritan people were one of the most despised people. In order to get Jesus’ message across I think that perhaps we should replace the Samaritan with a Muslim or a member of the Taliban, someone that people in America would never associate with performing this kind of act. This kind of modernizing of Jesus’ parables, in my opinion, does not change the core of the message, but makes them as radical today as they were then. Jesus was radical in His view of love and loving others, even loving your enemies is a radical idea, but simply saying that we have to love our enemies is easy it is difficult when you have to do it, or if you have to say that you should love the Taliban.


Rachel Ball

Speaking on Paul’s view on love and the law:it is cool to think that the law can become obsolete in regards to the amount of love we are showing one another. Romans is a book that talks of this quite frequently.

For if we are to show our neighbors and ourselves and everything else love, the law would not be needed. If everything we did was out of love and showed love with the best situation possible, what more could there be? Law does become unnecessary once love is used.


Nick McCall

The story of the good Samaritan is always a convicting story for me because I have to wonder which one in the story am I? Am I the one that would stop and help the man, or would I be like the Priest who crossed to the other side of the street and kept on walking? This is a deep conviction of mine. The more I read my Bible, the more I learn about the character and love of Jesus Christ. I pray that God would continue to move in me to cultivate a loving heart for the broken.


Oscar Diaz

Love that does not think selfish thoughts, or supports destructive patterns. In order for humans to love as God loved, we must love in a way that benefits others, anything but this will result in selfish love, which is opposing the love of God. Jesus Christ life, death, resurrection and ascension sets the example for what love looks like in harmony with the words, and deeds that Christ did.


Derek Hunt

After reading about all of the different types of people Jesus calls us to love, it seems to me like pretty much everyone should be shown love. This is obvious to Christians, right? It would make sense Christians understand the most important part of their faith. But how hard is loving all others? Its hard. I fail everyday to love someone who is my neighbor, or someone being marginalized. It takes practice, even though I believe love comes naturally to all people. Some people choose to harness it or push it aside, instead of being vulnerable and being okay with feeling uncomfortable. Its not an easy thing, but I think the first step in the right direction is giving it a try, even if it seems awkward.


Connor White

The Christian faith is understood and viewed on a large scale in regards to what it means to be a Christian and what it looks like to be a Christian. Jesus hopefully is the center of what one believes about the Christian faith, but we know that not to always be true. In the time that I have spent at Christian school, both with ministry majors and non-ministry majors alike, athletes and scholars, and people from diverse cultures, I have noticed that we all have different opinions on the Christian faith, and especially Christ. I can’t help myself coming back to this place where everything hangs on the love of Christ and the love of Christ is all that really matters. For some, that’s not satisfactory, especially maybe in the realm of academia, but the love of Jesus, the love that is discussed in this blog, is the only reason why we have the faith and the hope that we do.


Ryan O’Neill

Jesus and his love in terms of what he has showed and the example he has given us is no doubt a vital part of our christian walk. But what I often wonder about this love and its effects is how much we would actually change if everyone followed this example of love all the time. What would happen? I think love often times today is viewed as more or less a sign of weakness, if its directed towards anyone but a significant other. Love is just you saying you’re not as powerful. But Jesus showed us how we can use love for our enemies,and very effectively at that. I think while this practice of love as Jesus showed is necessary, it is hard to put into practice.


Valerie Wigg

Reading this post was very refreshing! Thank you. I am always perplexed in the story of the good Samaritan at the thought that two religious leaders—TWO—refused to stop and help the man. They give the rest of us “religious leaders” a bad rep. My argument for this story is that those “leaders” were not, in fact, leaders in the way we understand a leader today. A leader is, first and foremost, guided by love through the Holy Spirit because of the love of Christ in everything they do. What I learn from this story is that I am not going to be like the two religious folk but strive to be like the Samaritan who went the extra mile to help this man, literally. Enough of my rant. I often contemplate what it means to “love your neighbor as yourself.” It is about more than just stopping to help someone, but it is about maintaining a relationship with those we help—checking in, continuing to help, etc. Love as Jesus loved. That’s easier said than done.


Angela Monroe

I enjoyed reading this article, as it was a great reminder of the fundamentals of Christianty. Jesus’ life and words are an example of what we as Christians should be. His love should change our lives. However, I often wonder if Jesus’ life actually does make a difference. I wonder if we as Christians actually change the way we live because of Jesus. I also wonder what difference Jesus’ resurrection makes. Still, I believe in the conclusion you ultimately came to. It is all about love and relationships. That is what Jesus taught, and that is what His followers should do.


Noelle Parton

I am challenged to put this into practice. I am challenged to look at my own life and ask, “Do non-believers see Christ in my because of the love I show?” If I am to imitate Christ, then I must constantly be self-reflecting and considering how I live my life. All Christians must do this. Every day, in every moment, we must strive to be like the good Samaritan- to be like Christ and emulate Him.


Cassidy Ball

This post really hits on all aspects of love. God said to love our neighbors as ourselves. Right there He is telling us to love others as well as ourselves. It then goes on to say that we should love God with all our hearts, soul, and mind. To love means to express it to all; even when people aren’t as easily lovable as we might want. In the story of the good Samaritan the men who first walked by were priests and Levites, who had nothing against the Jews. But a Samaritan, a people who hated the Jews, was the one to stop and help. They were enemies by culture. Yet this man showed self-less love and cared for the dying man. I love how Jesus says that a neighbor is any person in obvious need – regardless of their race, social status, gender, etc. We are called to love the way Jesus did. I definitely think we, as a people of God, need to act on that more often.


Andong Yue

The love of Jesus is indeed profound. Jesus loves us so when can love others — I think this is the major beauty of Christianity.
However, the love of Jesus can also be so easily abused. There were/are people who hold the idea that Jesus loves them no matter what they do, and I think such an idea is a terrible way handle the love of Jesus.
Even though it has been said that we are saved by Grace not by work, but Grace is not guaranteed to us. And many people, in my personal opinion, are not worthy of Grace. And I have to admit I myself might be among these people.


Cali Carpenter

Reading this blog post was a great reminder for me think about this week. As this semester is getting started, it is easy to become stressed and think about all of the things that need to get done. Even though school is only a few weeks in, I am already getting worried and caught up in the little things that I have to do. Instead of stressing about all the minor details of life, it is important to focus on the love of God. Instead of focusing on myself and thinking about things that I am struggling with, it is most important to focus on God’s love and reciprocate it unto others. This blog brought to my attention how important it is to focus on the things that matter and will continue to matter for eternity.


Michael Gordon

It’s not very often that we try to think of what would happen if Jesus came in the 21st century. The truth is that all the christians and good-doers would not be Jesus’ crowd to hang out with. Jesus would flock toward the sinners such as prostitutes, thieves, and rotten people. He would be the one willing to love on those who don’t have love shown to them very often and a lot of time we forget this fact. Jesus wants us to love our neighbors whoever they might be. We look down on those who we think are lesser than us and in reality we lie, we cheat, we steal, and we are no better than those who murder or rape. Jesus loves all of his children and we are taught to love like Jesus does.


Allie Kroeger

What a good reminder this was for me. I went to a women’s event this past week with Natalie Grant, and there the speaker also talked about the importance of wearing out love to everyone around us. I really like the part in this blog that said that loving your neighbor sums up all of the other commandments. As long as we are loving others, we are following all of Jesus’ other commands for our life. What a good reminder that it really can be that simple–that all we have to do is live a life of love. I hope that the day that I make it to heaven Jesus will tell me he is proud of the life of love that I lived.


Kamerron Monroe

I have always liked the story of the Good Samaritan, I especially liked how you used it here to show an act of love. Too often when we heard the phrase act of love we think romantical love but that is clearly not the case here. This kind of love is promoting the well being of another, that falls in line with Dr. Oord’s definition of love.


Lexi Sterling

“I pause to ponder — and to imitate — the love of Jesus.” I love that. This post really helped to bring some perspective to light. When I may be feeling like I am not doing all I can or “should” as a Christian, or perhaps feel as if I am doing life wrong, the simple realization that if I am loving, then I am doing well, is comforting. To be honest however, showing love, demonstrating love, being love… that seems overwhelming at times! Although at the same time, it sounds like a task I am able to do throughout my day-to-day life. By going the extra mile, doing some tasks for others, saying kind words, and so on, I can share love with others, and more importantly, perhaps share Jesus with others. By taking a step back from my own tasks and business, and pausing to ponder the love of God and inspire to share that same love, is a calling I hope to live into every day.


Taylor Gould

I think we tend to forget what it truly means to love someone selflessly in our society. We forget that we should love for no other reason than to just do it. We think that we should get something in return or that it should benefit us in someway or another, Jesus loves us unconditionally, even when we make mistakes and stray from His path. He loves us dimly because He does. Even when we don’t show Him the love He deserves, He does it anyways. If we want to strive to live a life centered in Christ we must first come to terms with what that means. I for example, need to work on loving those who have hurt me or have hurt the ones I love. It’s incredibly easier than done, but still something I need to strive for. We should all strive to be as kind and loving as our Father each and every day.


Curtis Mostul

The idea of Jesus to me has always been an idea of what I was going to church to become. I did not know each part of what that meant but I knew that he was a good guy and to be like Jesus would be a good idea. Today my view of Jesus is still a view in which I want to strive to be like him and enact love into the people around me. I may not always do the best job at this but I do try to be a good person. When I think of Jesus as someone who is a strong example of Love, I think of all the miracles that he performed. They were not in an act of selflove they were in an act that wanted to further the kingdom and bring joy to the people that he encountered.


Kara Den Hoed

Often times, I think I get caught up in rules that I think that I am supposed to follow. I get more focused on not sinning rather than actively loving, not doing things rather than doing. I have to bring myself back to the passages mentioned to refocus because like they say, loving God and your neighbor are most important. What this means for me is a change in how I look at and think about people and situations. Rather than focusing on trying not to notice the things that annoy me about a person, I need to focus on how to love them. It is something to work towards and not refrain from. If I can work on that way of thinking, I think I will get better at “loving people.” As for my thoughts about Jesus’ love for us? I’ve come to be okay with the fact that I cannot comprehend it but only be thankful for it and strive to love others in the same way.


Cass Hinton

I really enjoyed reading this blog. This idea and belief is something that I think about a lot of the time. I find it fascinating how Jesus led by example and called each of us to love in the way that he loves. I think that this topic is one of the most talked about but often times the least practiced. The church preaches and prays for love and understanding but I think that a lot of the time they fail to open their eyes and see the abundant opportunities to love. We spend so much time convincing ourselves that nothing is wrong, that there are no people who are suffering or who are in obvious need. When relating to the story in Luke chapter 10 we have become like those who simply walked by, who turned to look the other way. The world today has cultured a type of bubble reality in which we only allow the few people and places in our “bubble” to affect us in any way and if it’s not directly happening in our bubble, we don’t see it.


Michae delie

I think that the most important aspect of this article is that jesus example of love towards us is how we should choose to live our lives showing love and kindness towards others. Jesus is an example to us of how to live our lives and i think that is the most important thing i took away.


Connor Magnuson

One of my biggest downfalls, I feel, is using words like hate and despise. Especially when it is directed at people. As you could imagine, the commandment Jesus tells his followers, “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” is a sobering commandment for me. At times, I can’t imagine how I could love my enemy; that being said, I further couldn’t imagine how some people who have it worse than I do love their enemies. Anytime I hear or think about this commandment, it seems that I have to work harder to follow it. The occasion with which this passage was written is Easter, but I don’t think we should wait until then to remember Jesus’s self-sacrificial act of love. Jesus paid the ultimate price for our sins. And yet essentially all we are asked to do is love you enemies? Puts things in perspective for me.


Kendra Wilson

I love hearing repeating lessons on loving one another. I think we need more of it. I was at a women’s event lead by Natalie Grant this weekend who also spoke about love and loving one another, the stranger, the one who prosecuted against you. I think we need to hear it often because it the most difficult. The other day I witnessed an older man walking down the street and as cars passed he would stick out his thumb trying to catch a ride and cars kept passing and passing and my heart wanted to pick him up so bad and take him where ever he was going but for 1. I was full of fear. Fear that he’d hurt me or steal my car have me drive somewhere bad and for 2. I was alone. I think this happens a lot. We let fear stop us from love. But God knows our heart and if we are doing things for the right reasons I believe that he will protect us with his mighty hand and we need to trust in him. That simple thought will make loving the stranger easier.


James Shepherd

After reading this it reminds me that one of the fundamental Christian characteristics is, or should be, love. Christ not only called us to live into the Christian life, loving in the same manor he himself did, but to show love to everyone. This is why I find the story of the Good Samaritan helpful in this article. We are not called to love when it is ‘convenient’, but to love others at all times. This is the example both Christ and the Good Samaritan set for us. I think we should all, both Christian and non-Christian, should strive to do.


Tyler Mahaffy

I find these to be very moving and touching, I that I attempt to follow these. I don’t discriminate, I try to help those who need it. This is a perfect example of love. The tale of the Good Samaritan was always and still is a favorite of mine. Show how one man, who didn’t have it so good in life, went out of his way, to help a complete stranger, without asking of accepting anything in return. For me, when I see people do bad things, it is somewhat difficult at first to show love for them, but after studying and waiting and watching them, I think you can find the capacity to show to them. Love, for everyone, neighbor and enemy is the one thing in life that all should aspire to accomplish.


Shantay Perry

When you think of Jesus what do you think of?

Do you think of Jesus dying on the cross for our sins?
Do you think of church?
Do you think of those bible stories that you heard when you were young?

I think of love.
Jesus to me is love and embodies all that love is supposed to be. It is difficult for me personally to even begin to comprehend his love in its entirety and fully understand what it means to love as Jesus loves. I think that people would agree that the world would be a better place if everyone truly loved their neighbor and loved their enemies. It is difficult to imagine the world like this at this moment, because not everyone loves their neighbor. We live in a society filled with hate and sin. Sometimes I am overwhelmed with all the suffering that happens around me.

Reflecting on the videos we have watched so far in class, I think that it shows how we (humans) do not always love or express love. We have seen lots of suffering and the suffering of the good. Another example that shows pain and suffering is the news. The news is full of stories emphasizing the horrible things that happen all the time around us to people who don’t deserve it.
So where is the love? Where is Jesus some may ask?
These questions are the ones I have always struggled with and I don’t have the answers to. But I do know that I see love and I feel love. Along with all the bad things there are good things. I think part of being a Christian involves trying to love and love the way he loved.


Jackson Bevens

In thinking of Love, I think we often times look to much at what we are receiving, and why necessarily we should love someone. We all know and have heard the saying to love everyone, but we still ask ourselves what exactly do I get out of this? I think that it is really important to listen to Jesus, and to love all home you encounter. What I think that we will find is that not only does love help out others, but by us loving on everyone, we actually receive love and gratification in return. We get so caught up in the tangible aspect of what we get from Love, that we forget that when we love people no matter what, our life becomes enriched and we live into the kingdom of God.


Allison Christy

In reading this post, I am reminded that, as Christians, our lives ought to focus on and revolve around how we can love others. As the perfect example of what we strive to be, Jesus embodied the kind of pure and unconditional love we ought to give others. If we truly wish to reflect Jesus and the love he expressed for us in life, death, and after death, then we need to extend our love and acceptance even when it is uncomfortable for us. We are called to love all people, just as Jesus did, and to love them no matter their actions, choices, or lifestyle. We are not meant to decide whether or not someone is our “neighbor,” or what instances we are supposed to express our inner “good Samaritan.” We just are called to love, and to love always. If more people inside and outside the church began to love like Jesus, we would all be better for it.


Brenden O’Neill

There is no denying the fact that love is the key to living a life that is centered in Jesus Christ, because love is the center of Jesus’ gospel. As Christians, it is our calling to model our lives after the example set forth in the life of Jesus. This means adopting the all-inclusive, self-sacrificial love that Jesus displayed to all he came into contact with. This idea seems very simple, and I believe that with God working through us it can be. Unfortunately without the help of God, this becomes very challenging because of the limits that we have placed on the love that we share.


Rachel Ball

Just as your post about explaining love to an alien brought forth, so I may mentioned it again in regards to Jesus. Not ever does Jesus stop and give a lecture about what love is, how we should do it, and all of its many discrepancies. Jesus simply loves. He has wise things and specific commands to make about who to love, but in all actuality, he simply acts out the object of our attention: love. I consider myself a ‘doer’ rather than anything else. Therefore, this is how I best understand my savior’s love; acting on what love is in order to be the worlds greatest example of love that it will ever know.


Caleb Gerdes

God is love, yes. I know that to my core, but do I know every form of love that God considers love? I mean in the Old Testament there is a body count that is staggering of both non-Jewish and Jewish, God’s chosen people. Then looking at the New Testament does everything Jesus does have to do with some loving action. I mean to look at the stories of him evicting the tax collectors from the temple, him having nothing nice to say about the Pharisees, and him cursing that tree. In all of these actions and continuing actions: is God always love and is God’s love always that of a good Samaritan?


Melissa Verhage

Whenever I hear the story of the Good Samaritan I always think how could someone just ignore a man in need just because they don’t like them. But when I think about how hard it is to love those you don’t like and that have hurt you I have to take a step back and re-look at my life. Jesus calls us to love all, those we like and those we don’t, and that’s one thing I need to work on daily in my life. This was a good blog to remind me of this fact.


Matthew Silva

Imitating the love of Jesus is no small calling. There is so much to discuss and ponder here that it seems impossible to add anything useful or meaningful in the few words available. When attempting to talk about this in general terms, it would be impossible to avoid overused platitudes and overgeneralizations, no matter how sincere the sentiment and intentions were. None of this is easy or simple. It all takes hard work, sacrifice, and most of all commitment. We all fail to love as we should. Striving to love more and to love better is a lifelong endeavor, and you will never “have the answer” have “figured it out”. There is nothing really to be said other than keep working, keep trying, and don’t forget to accept the love that is shown to you.


Kayla Sevier

The quote, “You shall love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength…” Is a common quote among Christains and personally, overlooked. I am sure that I am not the only one who could agree that no matter how many times we hear this command from our Lord we don’t take it seriously or into consideration. Not only do we have to love Him fully with one of those but ALL of them. As a Christian, I have found it most hard to simply love like He did because of the humility needed to do so in society today. I am guilty that I fall into this but also vulnerable to admit to it and want to change… Not some of me but all of me! Great post for a great reminder.


Rachel Finley

To me, this blog is the essence of what true love really is. Jesus is the human example of what love should look like. I especially loved the part of this article where Jesus talks about loving your enemies. He says, “love your enemies and do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you….” It’s hard to love on someone who does not love you back or who you do not love. There once was this girl I used to go to church with and she was such a nuisance. She was crazy needy, self absorbed, rude – basically to sum it up, I did not like her at all. One Wednesday night, my youth pastor at the time preached a sermon on how we should start praying for our enemies (or people we can’t stand). I really didn’t want to, but I knew God was telling me to start praying for this girl. So, I did. Low and behold, after 3 months of prayer, I grew to absolutely love this girl! God totally changed the way I saw her and softened my heart towards her. I was then able to share the love of Christ with this girl, which was something I never could have done in the past. In time, her life changed dramatically and her and I are friends to this day. To me, this is just proof that God really is the definition of love.


Matti Munger

Mt. 6:43-44 is one that I really need to hear more often than other Bible verses. It’s really easy for me to love on my friends, feel their pain, and be there for them when they need me, but to do that for my enemies is very difficult for me. It’s hard to remember that God wants us to love our enemies and pray for the ones that are hurting us because we automatically think about the ones we love in our prayers, not the ones that just made fun of us or hurt us in some way. But those are the ones that need it the most and it’s always a good thing to remember that.


Linnea Phillips

Although it’s so much easier to love those who love us in return or those we feel deserve our love, it’s undoubtedly more difficult to love those who don’t have an impact on our everyday, such as a stranger in the grocery store. It’s even more difficult to love those who have impacted our life but in a negative way.

As a society, our attitude is extremely egocentric. When someone does a “loving” act for someone else, they generally expect something beneficial in return. Fortunately, God’s love is perfect. He loves us unconditionally, even when we don’t love him back.

As I was reading this blog, I couldn’t help but wonder how many people think of me when they hear the word “enemy”. Instead of think about others as the enemy, I realized that I’m also a major part of the problem. When I flipped my mindset, I discovered that my Grandma was right all along, “Treat others as you would like to be treated.”


Brad

This blog really emphasizes what the perfect form of Love is, Jesus Christ. Jesus through his life and teachings taught us how to love ourselves and one another. We must first Love God, and then we must love our neighbors. Those two things sound so simple but for me are often so hard, especially the second one. Sometimes I find it extremely difficult to love my neighbors, my roommates, my friends, or family but when we love each of these people we are showing them the love that God shows us.


Randy Kingsmore

Here is my second attempt at this blog post after an error on my first attempt. This reading is a good reminder of what we as Christians should strive for. A picture of what true love looks like. In my life it has meant taking the Aristotelian virtue approach of making small daily habit changes. these small rather meaningless changes have become second nature for me now. They are simple courtesies such as opening the door for strangers, smiling at a baby in line at the store, or being nice to the person serving me who is having a bad day. These small changes have become a foundation on which I can make larger changes. Hopefully over a lifetime, I begin to get closer and closer to that image true love demonstrated to us by Jesus.


Toniessa Phelps

This blog really spoke to me. I work in fast food and it is truly hard to show love and compassion to someone who is just angry and does not show love or kindness to you. It’s amazing to read about throughout the Bible just how much love Jesus had for everyone. Even though he was persecuted he still showed love and asked his father not to punish them because they didn’t know what they were doing. I believe this is hard to do as a human alone. I know for instance if I didn’t have God in my life I wouldn’t be able to show love to people because without Jesus’s example and his holy spirit working through me I just couldn’t do it because I would copy what others do. It isn’t easy to show love even though it is one of the most important commandments that God told us to do. Without God I believe there wouldn’t be a lot of love.


Kevin Field

I think it is very valuable to listen to Jesus when we are pondering the definition and an understanding of love. The love revolution brought about by christianity should be evidence of His knowledge when it comes to the subject. However, I can’t help but ponder the fact that Jesus does not make a point of defining love in his teachings. It seems to me as if He feels comfortable granting those he teaches the authority to define it for themselves. His examples of love through self-sacrifice and parables give us encouragement to love more but ultimately we must grow in confidence that we know love and are able to express it in action. In this manner, I believe that we are called to strive for love in faith that it will be revealed to us and through us to the world.


Spencer Hassman

Scripture makes it very clear that we are called to imitate the love of Jesus, but for the more formulaic of us, that can be a very intimidating proposition, as scripture does not give us a simple answer for every situation; I don’t think we can ever really know what exactly is the most perfect imitation of Christ’s love in every situation. That being said, I think that the Lord is honored by our attempts to try, and I also believe that the Holy Spirit, the general movements of scripture, and the support of the Church are the only guides that we need to live as close as humanly possible to the example of Christ.


Ana

When we look at the world today we see so many societies and customs that have become so individualistic, selfish, and vain. I know for myself that I look around and no long do we actually take Jesus’s actions to heart. We no longer look to him to show us the real ways to treat one another. Instead we have people we look to show us the latest trends, to show us what we can do to make ourselves better. We convert them into idols and heroes, and unfortunately we no longer look to Jesus to really help us show us those trends and ideals that we should have in order to show the world God’s love. As a psychology student I look at all of this as social psychology. Social psychology says that we do not necessarily help others just to help. We do it because we gain something from it. In some instances we do it because we receive positive recognition. In others we receive things in return, or perhaps expect something in return from the individual helped. But if I may be honest, I do to help other in order to receive something in return. I do it and ask the person to pay it forward. Sure they’re gratitude is great but I also let them know that it is God’s love that allowed me to do it and that through them they should show his love by helping the next person in need.


Jared

Jesus gave his life to showing people that God is love. Jesus did everything in his power to bring other’s together to a common truth. This truth that God is Love. Jesus brought together tax collectors, martyrs, and fisherman, carpenters, scribes, and doctors to engage them in relationship and forgiveness. It was evident that Jesus’s life was so power with Divine Presence that he fulfilled God’s message to word to love God and each other.
Jesus lived a life of Forgiveness taking on wrong’s that have been done and making them right. This message was evident in the parables Jesus told like the one in Luke 16. In this parable Jesus was with pharisees and tax collectors who were discussing Jesus for welcoming sinners and eating with them. He told the parable of the lost sheep, prodigal son, and shrewd manager. These stories emphasize God’s value of every being and how it is important to lavish love no matter who it is, nor in what form. For the pharisees this meant money. For us, we have the choice to choose how we allocate all of our resources whether that is money, time, attention, or works. It is our choice to use these for love, which was edified in the most Divine form in Christ Jesus, where he sacrificed his life on Christ for all Humanity. God is love.


Matthew

I appreciate your commitment to the Biblical witness. You also respect the Jewishness of Jesus in affirming that Jesus’ teaching on the law and the prophets was to place “love [as]their culmination or overarching guide,” not something entirely new.

While Jesus’ ministry and words are important, less words in this piece are devoted to Jesus’ death and resurrection, which to me an aspect of God’s love just as important. God’s powerful love was most powerful in the shame and weakness of Christ on the cross. I wonder if writing the piece this way was intentional because some theologies only focus on atonement or resurrection.


B. V.

The sacrifice of love that Jesus made on the cross required Him to be forsaken by His Father. This is something that, as we walk through life as Jesus’ disciples, we will never have to experience. The agony of being separated from the love of the Father is something that Jesus suffered on our behalf, so that we would never have to. Love sometimes causes us to feel pain. But in the midst of any pain that we experience in this life, is the presence of God and a loving Savior who can honestly say to us, “I know what it’s like to be human and to suffer as you are suffering.” Our God does not pity us; but instead He empathizes with us as someone who went through it Himself and also goes through it all with us. That is Jesus’ loving choice. In God’s choice to be present with us, God chooses to experience our pain. When we choose to take the risk of love, that also many times means experiencing the pain of others. This is not comfortable. But it can be very joyful. I believe that God takes joy in being with us, whatever that means–even if it means being in pain sometimes. And our suffering does cause God to experience pain. I take joy in experiencing love, even though that sometimes means that I feel pain because of it. I will take the pain if it means also receiving the experience of the love. That is (on an infinitely smaller scale) the choice that my Savior made for me.


Kyle Seibert

You briefly mention Jesus’ deep identity as a Jewish man. This, especially in more modern writings, has been a big emphasis as a recovery, as this was a fact largely ignored for too long. His ministry and model of love, then, would presumably fit within a Jewish context, or at least would grow out of it.

I wonder how your definition of love that you have proposed in other places fits within a Jewish context. While you argue that your definition applies to everybody, you use and teach it in mostly Christian contexts and in relation to Christian identity and life. What might some Jewish correspondents say about the model of love that you have proposed, that you claim Jesus models? Is this as coherent in a Jewish context as in a Christian one?


Eric S

It is hard to imitate Christ when the example Christ set is so broad. There are so many ways to show Christ’s love in this world. And in this day and age, there are so many people who need love. This can almost be overwhelming. I think Paul realized this when he wrote to the Corinthians about the many different gifts each person receives through the Holy Spirit. Each of us are called to use our God given gifts to show God’s love to people in different ways and each of us may reach a different population set as well. One person does not have to do it all. I think this should ease the minds of those who go out to spread the love of God to all they meet, knowing that others are helping cover the ground they cannot cover.


Lian

2. The Love of Jesus article is really challenging for me, specifically the story of Good Samaritan. “Jesus tells of a man who is robbed, beaten, stripped, and left to die. Two religious people passed by the victim, but these religious people ignored the opportunity to help.” What comes to my mind is that in this contemporary world, who would be these two religious people? We have to think ourselves who are facing these kinds of victims in the society such as the poor, homeless, parentless so on.
“However, an impure outsider a Samaritan came to the injured man’s aide, cared for his wounds, and found him a place of safety.” As Jesus suggests that our neighbor is anyone who obviously needs to help in the society. Therefore, according to the article, I imagine that it is the right time to show our love to those who are needing help in the society. This is an urgent need to wake up the reality in our public ministry.


Dylan

I’m thinking right now about Yeshua and the Canaanite woman with the demon-possessed daughter in the gospel according to Matthew: Yeshua wasn’t very kind to her–at first. And while various theological interpretations can be offered to explain this, at heart I think it suggests that even Yeshua’s love wasn’t “perfect”: he would have originally sent her away on the basis that dogs shouldn’t eat food intended for children. Only when the woman replies that dogs deserve the crumbs does he commend her faith and heal her daughter.

I guess I propose this because I tend to look more towards Yeshua the man who was (I think–but then again, I’m not-quite Christian in an orthodox or traditional sense) fully human: I think he made mistakes. I think he had moments of anger. I think he had moments of impatience. I don’t necessarily think his love was “perfect”–except to say that in the end, he fulfilled what his God was calling him to do: to love, unceasingly, as best as he could. And I think, regardless of faith or how we conceive of God (if we do at all), I suppose that’s all our purpose on this earth: to love and show compassion to all, unceasingly, as best that we are able, and hopefully in progression from moments in our pasts when we’ve failed to do so.

(Also, I would love to second Kyle’s point about Yeshua’s Jewishness and how a Jewish understanding of love–particularly of love between God and humanity–is perhaps different, even fundamentally so, from what Christianity has come to see as love.) 🙂


Denise

I have always the loved the Shema (unsure of spelling) for its simplicity and beauty (“love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and your neighbor as yourself”). Although it sounds so simple, this is such a complex command to understand and carry out, for it is under this umbrella that all other commands of God align. Ultimately, love is “the culmination or overarching guide.”
This blog summarizes much of what we’ve covered in our Maymester class thus far. I am captivated by the idea of living moment by moment in making loving choices for the well-being of all even as I’m overwhelmed by the idea. In trying to be mindful of this concept and practice loving others in the moment this week, I’ve been successful at times (buying breakfast for a homeless woman) and not so effective other times (passing by a veteran in a parking lot asking for money). I don’t want to get into the business of “keeping score,” which seems too much like works righteousness for a Lutheran. . .
Props to my classmates for highlighting Jesus within the Jewish tradition. Their comments pique my interest in taking Jesus Within Judaism next year.


Christephor Gilbert

I’m thinking the same thing reading this post as I did hearing this passage from Luke today: why aren’t we given more specific direction regarding self-love? Luke is clear about love directed toward God. It is complete. It is whole—the whole heart, soul, and mind. The kit and the caboodle! But then we are prompted to love our neighbor . . . as our self? What doe that mean? Even the example of the Samaritan doesn’t really tell us what loving our self looks like. Are we to assume that the whole and holistic love we direct toward God is the model of all kinds of love? Why doesn’t Luke, in quoting Jesus, say that? Why didn’t Jesus say, ”Love your neighbor and love your self as you would love your God?” If this is so central, why isn’t there more?

I wonder if we need to spend more time, in an historical-critical way, seating the conversation about love within the Hebrew scripture, as a phenomenon deeply rooted (as is the case for the Gospels) in Second-Temple Judaism? Rather than continuing to rely upon Christian interpretation (in the works of people like Augustine and Anders Nygren, for example) why don’t we go back to Christianity’s primary antecedents in Jewish literature and scripture for more answers about God’s love, and in turn, our love direct back toward God or others?


Esther Buck

Reading this essay and remembering class today I have two thoughts in mind.
Jesus loves without exeption those who are lonely and unpure and those who do not love him. But Jesus never talks about his motives and motiviation. We know that God so loved the world. So, love is the motivation to love, isn’t it? I also wondered how Jesus practiced self-love. Maybe when I left mass meetings to pray in quietness. Was there also self-love at the cross? Or excludes sacrifical love the aspect of self-love to promote overall well-being?
The second thought is about the great command in Matthew which refers also to the Old Testament. The two parts of the command are not entirely parallelized. It says: “Love God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind” – in short with your whole being. But then we read: “Love your neighbor as yourself”. I wonder if there is a difference in quality and intense to love God or if we are called to love also our neighbors and ourselves with our whole being. To promote overall well-being it makes more sense, I guess, to love everyone with heart, mind and soul.


Katie

You bring up the inclusivity of God’s love (Mt 5:43-48) which we are still wrestling with today, and don’t shy away from the controversial nature of God’s love. I completely agree that Jesus pushes us to love the unlovely, and this is something that cannot be emphasized enough. This can even greatly inform our self-love.

I’m also surprised to realize that I’ve never heard what Paul said in Romans 13, (“Owe no one anything,” Paul writes to the Christians in Rome, “except to love one another”) in the way I did when reading this article. This has profound implications on how we are to be relationally.


Patrick O’Donel

I agree with much of the content here and found it to be a helpful summary of the nature of divine love. The question that has come to arise for me (as briefly discussed in class) over the years has to do with how we affirm the importance of self-love while at the same time practicing sacrificial love. There seems to be times where these two expressions of love will run counter to each other and we need to discern which form of love to exercise in that moment. On what basis would we choose to exercise self-love vs others-love? There are many times where this question will constitute a false choice, but there are times where the nature of the decision that needs to be made is very subtle, and my perception is that in light of that subtlety the default Christian response has been to sacrifice. I’m not saying that this is necessarily bad, but it seems that it can lead to some problematic decision making. I’m interested in exploring more about how such judgment calls ought to be made…


Jaeymes Childers

I affirm that Jesus can be seen as a model of how best to love and see that the ways that Jesus pushes us to love those for whom we would not naturally love as a really important message. I think it was important in that time to talk about it as individuals were being cast out of societies for reasons that were beyond themselves or were not for the community to judge them for. I see this still being an important thing for us to understand and that loving the unlovable or unlovely as the passages you brought up requests of us can help us. I think this is something we need to remember to do at all times as Christians within our own faiths as well as with those from other traditions. We all too often discount others because they do not share our views and we see that as ugliness but in loving them despite that and in spite of that we can love them into a place of reconciliation but without love, we will never find reconciliation with them. I would only caution against seeing everyone who disagrees with us as unlovely because then we tread on a slippery slope, for we may be the one who has the unlovely beliefs in this case. It is important in these cases to love as Jesus did because we are commanded to love our neighbors regardless of how they treat us or how we feel about them. The commandment of love is bigger than ourselves and our nature.
I’m not sure that this was anything with great resolution, it was however, the reflection I had coming out of reading this piece.


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