“Omg. LOVE.” When a thumbs-up “like” is not enough, “LOVE” is what we write under a friend’s Facebook picture of her puppy. Love means “extreme like,” right?

But what if it’s more? Jesus makes love the core of his message, the key that unlocks everything else.

What if the love he speaks of is more than your momentary preferences? What if the love he speaks of is a choice? What if it’s harder than the love the world speaks of, but also bigger?

What if that kind of love is the only thing that can ever change us?

Maybe that love begins with an earnest look toward heaven, the sincere words on our lips: “Oh. My God.”

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Israel, listen! Our God is the Lord! Only the Lord!

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your being, and all your strength.

Deuteronomy 6:4-5

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On a junior high canoe trip, I met a church youth leader whose heart overflowed for Christ. Whether driving the van or enlisting us at the soup kitchen, he found things to celebrate. He sang anthem rock at the top of his lungs, quoted scripture like favorite song lyrics, and made every kid laugh. When he prayed, you could feel his love for God.

When he led some of the group in cliff-jumping into those Boundary Waters lakes, he said, “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage!” He had something I wanted, and that summer after 8th grade, I decided my life could have no greater adventure or purpose than following Jesus.

Since then I have met others who radiated this faith, and they’ve come in many types: contemplative monks, justice-seeking nuns, teenagers in Kenya, and grandmothers in nursing homes.

Where have you met such a person? Be around them. Ask them what they know of God.

Cari Pattison

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God of love, put people in my path who love you with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. Teach me how to become one — even in my own uniqueness of personality and gifts. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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Go now into the world
carried in the arms of love,
emboldened by the voice of love,
and sheltered under the wings of love.

Go now into a world
enslaved to a false love,
desperate for a word of love,
and more open than you can imagine to the God of love.

Cari Pattison

Cari Pattison graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary and has served for eight years as the Associate Minister for The Reformed Church of Bronxville, a congregation just north of New York City. Originally from Kansas City, Cari fiercely loves the Royals (baseball), along with her family of Mom, Dad, and brothers. She teaches fitness classes and yoga and is presently on study leave—a fellowship through Sarah Lawrence College’s Writing Institute.

Ken Medema

Callings: Be Thou My Vision

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