“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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The legal expert said to him, “Well said, Teacher. You have truthfully said that God is one and there is no other besides him. And to love God with all of the heart, a full understanding, and all of one’s strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself is much more important than all kinds of entirely burned offerings and sacrifices.”

When Jesus saw that he had answered with wisdom, he said to him, “You aren’t far from God’s kingdom.” After that, no one dared to ask him any more questions.

Mark 12:32-34

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We want to be close to greatness. That’s why people buy front-row seats to football games, back-stage passes to concerts, autographed books by authors, and snap selfies with celebrities.

But Jesus says, “You want to be close to the kingdom? Court-side seats to God’s best game? Show up to your life, with love.”

Love gets squeezed out when school gets stressful, parents hurt you, siblings taunt you, and friends exclude you.

But in the thick of my day, when I’m most down, I silently inhale, “Love flowing in,” and silently exhale, “Love flowing out.”

When I’m dealing with someone hardest to love, I picture them held in the light, shining out of their best self. I pray, “God, help me see him the way you do.” Or “God, forgive her for me, because I can’t.”

God’s love doesn’t depend on your goodness. It channels through you. And that makes you part of something great.

Cari Pattison

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God of love, sometimes I doubt my own value. Yet I turn to you because I believe you invite me to something bigger and greater — your kingdom of truth and peace, mercy and justice, beauty and love. Let your love flow in and through me, and help me see the way you do. 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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