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Jesus summed up all the commandments with the command to love God and to love our neighbour. When we embrace love, we embrace the very nature of God, for God is love. (1 John 4:8) We often have a very romanticised view of love in the Western world, immediately focussing on the erotic love between a couple, but love – as the Greek language makes plain – has many different facets. There is the love of a parent for a child, the love of a child for a parent, the love between friends, the love between family members, the regard and affection we may have for colleagues or acquaintances and so on. Love involves patience, kindness, gentleness, encouragement, tolerance, hope, challenge and faithfulness (see 1 Cor 13:4-8). True love must be selfless and care more for the beloved than for oneself.

penguins holding hands at sunset

When we look at the cross, we see love personified. We see the selfless sacrifice of the Saviour, His desire to save others greater than His need for self-preservation. We see the anguished love of the Father, caring for humanity so much that He gave His only Son to save us from our sins. (John 3:16) We see how love goes not only the extra step, but the extra mile; we see love vast as the ocean, as the hymn says.

That love melts our hearts and gives us the ability to embrace love in our own lives. The love we are called to show is that same ‘agape’ love: not the love simply for our own kind or our own families, but a love that embraces everyone. This kind of love is divine, all loves excelling. It’s this kind of love we need to embrace, made possible as we embrace the One who loved us and gave Himself for us and as we are embraced in return by Him.