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“As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” –John 13:34
Here’s a tiny detail to notice in this story from the Last Supper. Jesus issues the love commandment after Judas leaves the room. The spirit of self-interest must depart before the command of love can be heard and take root in the community of faith. So long as we’re concerned with defending our wealth, saving our skins, or having our way, love has nowhere to go in us. We can say we love our families, our Church, our country, but if self-interest is in the room, we’re possessed by that spirit and nothing more.
Is self-interest really such a bad thing? Why not seek to be Number One and to love ourselves before anything else? Certainly self-loathing is unproductive, and self-regard is healthy and necessary. But a world of self-interested people looks like—honestly, it looks like the world we have right now, full of grasping, greedy people seeking dominance over others. It’s a world where fear is institutionalized, injustice inevitable, and violence a virtue. The love command is not a suggestion. It’s the only way to the kingdom coming.
When you love someone, what happens to self-interest?
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