Does love command? I think it does! It is in the very nature of love that it is an invitation from one person to another. However, when we understand what love is and have received the love of God into our lives this invitation to love others becomes a de facto command as anything less than love for our fellow human beings is not good enough nor worthy enough of Christian love.
The example that Jesus gives us of loving us while we were still sinners is an incredibly strong example and one that is very difficult to follow. It is also the basis upon which we can understand the commanding nature of love in that there is nothing that anyone can do to us that would excuse us from the responsibility and duty to love our neighbour! Love is not simply the invitation to enter into a relationship – it encapsulates everything else that is needed to make that relationship endure unto the end.
Jesus speaks of how we are his friends and that we have moved from a servile to friendship basis for our relationship with him. Masters command their servants and their servants obey. Friends invite other friends into relationship and hence there is a different basis for it. Nevertheless, when we have received God’s love and are trying to live by it and share it with others, we discover that it has an element of commandment to it simply because of its universal calling. If no one can excuse themselves of loving another person, then there must be an element of command build into the nature of love, into the nature of our human psyche.
Let us reflect upon how we express our love for others and see if we are being true to both the nature of love and our human nature. If not, let us pray for the grace to grow in our capacity to love, yes, even our enemies!
Holy Spirit, help me to understand and act upon the fundamental truth that I should love all people regardless of who they might be. Help me to avoid judging people prematurely so that my love for them will not be hindered in any way.