So often I am told to reflect on God's love for me. Although there is some consolation in that, I have recently discovered that there is a much more amazing experience to be had in meditating upon God's love for someone else. The results are far richer: God loves this man standing in front of me; God loves that woman, over there. God loves him, or her, deeper than I ever have, and absolutely independently of anything good this man, or that woman, has ever done.
For someone whose self-image is twisted by the wierd mixture of pride and low self-esteem common to moderns, meditating on God's love for a friend or a stranger put a stunning perspective on things. Here is this person! This fellow, who I do not know all that well. And God loves him dearly! Like an only child, only more. And God wants to take this person into his arms, to give him eternal life, to make him like an angel... this fellow, who stands before me, who may be a hard worker or lazy, who might be kind or mean, handsome or hideous, brilliant or dense, healthy or maimed. This fellow is an apple of the Lord's eye! And his story, which I do not know--it must be full of the work of God, the struggle of this will with God, the joy of this person's finding God, and the sadness of this man's not seeing God from time to time. And God's almost insane affection for him hasn't changed a wink!
Fine, true, there is an inward turn with this reflection. Yes, God's love for me is no different. But more interesting, more exciting than this is: Hey, I want the same thing for this other fellow. And I want this man to be perfectly happy, totally irrespective of anything good that he has done. And I want this because God wants it. I want this, because God has permitted me, and given to me, the ability to want it.
And then, only then, is the inward turn interesting. Coming out of myself, I see this skinny, white, slightly pimply-faced kid, and I think, hey, I want this guy to be happy, too. Real happiness; laughter in the innocent friendship with God. And I want it totally irrespective of anything this skinny kid has accomplished, or anything he ever will.
Dear God, save us poor skinny pimply kids.