Scientists theorize that one of the reasons we enjoy sports and movies so much is that we identify with the players or actors, participating mentally with them as we watch! Our brains contain ‘mirror neurons’ that respond to observed movement or emotion just as if we were actually moving or feeling what we see. Interesting, isn’t it? Researchers want to explore this discovery and how it relates to autism. Those who are autistic do not respond properly in their social context, lack communicative skills, and frequently appear to be in a fantasy world. Could it be that they lack ‘mirror neurons’ so they do not see and learn from the behavior of other people?
Whatever the final results of the research into the area of mirror neurons, it is a fact that God wants us to be filled with compassion, capable of ‘walking in another’s shoes,’ sharing their joys and sorrows. This is the essence of love! While we may be born with more or fewer ‘mirror neurons’ I am convinced that we can learn to love, that we can develop the ability to get outside of our own skin.
Ever spent time around someone who is deaf and blind, not literally, but emotionally? They just don’t pick up on the mood of a room, don’t understand how they are relating (or failing to relate) to others. A person like that will tell a loud joke in a funeral home, will insist on telling their own story of minor inconvenience in the company of another who is in a life and death struggle, will criticize somebody who is all ready on the edge of despair. They just don’t ‘get it.’ When I find myself in that kind of social situation, it sets me on edge, because I can see the pain that such a person is creating in others as they alienate, offend, and sometimes even destroy.
God can teach us to empathize! I know that from personal experience. As a young man, I was seriously deficient in the area of compassion. My prescription for most ills was ‘try harder.’ I was as likely to give somebody a kick in the behind (figuratively speaking!) as I was to to offer support and/or encouragement. Then God let me taste the bitterness of disappointment. In my deep sorrow, He showed me His love and taught me of grace. How I thank Him for those lessons, though, at the time, they were hard.
The Word challenges us by holding up the example of Jesus’ love. This is how we’ve come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves. (1 John 3:16, The Message) Jesus saw our real need; which was to be restored to our Heavenly Father; and He willingly entered into our world to become the Bridge to Life, the Sacrifice that brought full forgiveness. What love. What empathy.
What is the real need of your spouse, your friend, your fellow Believer? Without strong empathy, we will not know how to ‘live sacrificially.’ We will be clueless about the real needs of the person who sits across the table in our home, in the next cube at work, or in the adjacent pew at church.
How are your mirror neurons firing? Perhaps the Spirit of God needs to give them a little tune-up?
Here’s how the Bible describes love. Take this with you today and live lovingly, for Jesus’ sake.
If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day,
and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.
Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
Love never dies.
Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit.
We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete.
But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.
When I was an infant at my mother’s breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant.
When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.
We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist.
But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright!
We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!
But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation:
Trust steadily in God,
And the best of the three is love. ” (1 Corinthians 13, The Message)
“Teaching People how to say “Yes” to God!”