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Can We Love Others Without Loving Ourselves?

When a Code Blue is issued in a hospital, any available medical personnel run to the room of the person who’s coding. It’s a matter of life and death. Milliseconds count. Politics, personal beliefs, hang-ups, grudges, and pride are put aside as the life of a fellow human lies in their hands.

It’s an emergency.

Since the beginning of time, mankind has been facing a life-and-death emergency. We are separated from our Creator. All he wants is for us to be reconciled to him. He sent his own flesh and blood down to earth to restore us. And we?re to help guide others to that restoration.

The greatest commandments are what? To love God and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. I can’t (and don’t) question our love for God. The passion and intensity with which we go about our lives are small indicators of our love. But we are guilty of not loving ourselves.

The statistics on burnout and stress, – not only in America, but specifically in the church – don’t lie. And even if they did, I’m sure you could conclude from your own experience that, quite frankly, we’re pretty terrible at loving ourselves. I know I am.

Here’s my question to you. If we can’t love ourselves fully, can we love others wholly?

We can care for others and can want the best for them, but to love them in the godliest ways is impossible until we can obey this great commandment.

We are in the midst of a crisis that needs our full devotion of mind, body, and spirit.

In Mark 12:30, Jesus declares, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”

Notice Jesus doesn’t say “love others with all your strength”; he says to “love the Lord your God.”

By loving God, we’re faithful to his commandments. When we’re obedient, God carries out his work through us. I once heard a pastor say the Holy Spirit will always accomplish his work in us, but why do we make him work so hard to do so?

Satan is out to annihilate hope and light, both in our world and in us, the body of Christ. He’s well aware of the crisis of the human race, and he will do anything and everything in his power to obliterate our efforts.

As the church, we need to take a good, hard look around and ask ourselves if we are ready to fight; to fight for our own love relationship with God through Christ, and for the world around us as well.

The above is a revised excerpt from my first book, Mad Church Disease: Overcoming the Burnout Epidemic.

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Anne Marie Miller (formerly Jackson) is a writer, speaker, and social change activist who lives in Orange County, California. She also holds the position of Storyteller at Visioneering Studios Architecture.