“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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One of the legal experts heard their dispute and saw how well Jesus answered them. He came over and asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?”

Jesus replied, “The most important one is Israel, listen! Our God is the one Lord, and you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this, You will love your neighbor as yourself. No other commandment is greater than these.”

Mark 12:28-31

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If you’re honest, what matters most to you?

Getting ahead? Getting stuff? Getting your way?

Being liked? Being included? Being recognized and respected?

Maybe in the haze of school and sports, family and friends, music and media, you haven’t figured out yet what matters most to you.

But researchers say that this new generation wants to make a difference for good.

Jesus says “Start here. Listen in. Love God with everything in you, and that love will pour out to the people around you. From there, what matters most will emerge. You’ll know what’s important.”

And yet sometimes it’s all we can do to take that love in. Last night as I struggled to sleep, behind on a deadline and face broken out, head pounding and stomach hurting, all I could do was cry out for that Love.

I let myself breathe deep, imagining God whispering my name, “I love you.” And me saying back, “I love you too.” Sometimes that’s all we can muster. We matter to God.

Cari Pattison

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God of love, hover over me when my soul attaches to things that are untrue. Show me what matters. No matter how unlovable I may feel, let me breathe in your love and feel your gaze of kindness. 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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