“’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.’” Matthew 22:37-39
Last week I had the blessing of spending time in the mountains outside Asheville, North Carolina, with a whole host of young people. It was a wonderful gathering filled with worship, spirit-filled music, and lots of fun as well as deep and compelling conversation.
The theme for this year’s program, based on the Great Commandment quoted above, was, “You Shall Love.”
Through songs and skits, youth shared personal stories, had discussions, and participated in hands-on activities that focused on love of self.
Loving God with all your heart, soul and mind is at the center of our faith. Love of neighbor is at the heart of our calling. And those of us who have chosen to follow in the Way of Jesus do our darnedest to embrace this Great Commandment.
Love of self, on the other hand, is more challenging for many of us, particularly for young people.
Anxiety, depression, self-harm and suicide rates are absolutely astronomical among the young people of our country. While many of us found our teen years very challenging, it seems nowhere as acute as what many youth experience today.
Because of this, I am committed to taking advantage of every opportunity I have with young people to instill in them that they are beloved, uniquely created children of God. And that God’s dream for them is to live into the fullness of who God has created them to be. Love of self is, in fact, central to our faith.