Loving One Another As Ourselves
Digging Deeper – What does loving one another as ourselves mean?
All human beings are created fully in the image of God, and as such, are worthy of respect. Full stop.
Christians are called to treat all people with respect, indeed, we are called to love one another as we love ourselves. Jesus doesn’t command us to “love your neighbor AS MUCH AS yourself.” We’re commanded to love our neighbors as ourselves, as a continuation of our very own being. To love our neighbor as our self is to see us as connected. That’s why we use the image of the Body of Christ. The Apostle Paul writes about the Church this way – as living members of the Body of Christ. When one member of the Body rejoices, we all rejoice. When one member suffers, we all suffer.
Think about your body. If you drop a hammer on your toe, the rest of your body doesn’t just shrug and say, “Sorry about that toe; the rest of us are okay.” There is a shared sense of urgency to do something about the pain in that toe.
How we talk to, with, and about each other must reflect that connectedness among us, all of us images of God.
The Episcopal Church always has held civility to be a virtue, sometimes too much so; for example when we would stop listening to people in pain just because their justifiable anger manifested itself in challenging and less-than-civil discourse. The Church began to seriously examine the topic in 2014, with a church-wide conference on Civil Discourse in Philadelphia.
At that conference, Rabbi Steve Gutow, president and CEO of the Jewish Council on Public Affairs, reminded participants that all three Abrahamic faiths — Judaism, Christianity and Islam — believe people are created in God’s image, and
“so people of faith must encounter each other as if they have a spark of God’s great wisdom in them that others can learn from, even when they do not agree with each other.”
Faith communities, he said, must act out of what he called a passionate commitment to what they believe God is telling them to do as well as a passionate commitment to the idea that each person is created in the image of God and thus must be honored.
The Episcopal Church is committed to resisting the urge to demonize opponents and to bringing light rather than heat to conversations on potentially divisive issues. We are committed to utilizing, teaching, and modeling civil discourse among ourselves and all we encounter.