My friends will tell you I’m a Julia Roberts fan. I’ve seen most of her movies and some of them have made an impression on me. Notting Hill comes to mind. But recently she posted something on Instagram that I’ve been seeing from many celebrities on social media and it made me think.
She posted a picture of a t-shirt that says, “I love my fans.” Well, the shirt actually uses the heart icon for love, but her caption reads: “I LOVE YOU.”
I have a friend who believes we live in such a time that we need to contend for the definition of words and I feel a sense of obligation in this case.
“Love” has a number of definitions, including to “have a great affection for,” to “derive or receive pleasure from” and to “be enamored with.” In that sense, Julia Roberts loves her fans, and they love her back.
It’s nice and all, but I wonder if we spend too much time loving people we will never meet, who will never know our names.
Jesus called us to a deeper kind of love – one that is far more satisfying for everyone involved – when he told us to love our neighbors as ourselves.
If, as a fan of Julia Roberts, I’m having a hard time making ends meet, she won’t be showing up at my door with a bag of groceries, but if I have developed a good relationship with my neighbor, then there’s a good chance he will, and vice versa.
Knowing that makes me feel less alone.
I once asked my next-door neighbor to feed my cat while I was on a trip. When I got back, I discovered he not only fed my cat, but he also fixed the deadbolt on my door.
A few years ago, when my city had a massive windstorm and the power was out for days, that same neighbor allowed me to hook into his generator even though his generator had an extremely limited amount of power.
When he was diagnosed with cancer, I told him I would pray for him, and I did. Thankfully, he’s in remission now.
And when his son died, I attended the funeral and mourned with his family.
But I still have work to do. I don’t know all of my neighbors. I know most of their names, and a few of their stories, but I need to go deeper with them, if they are willing. And I certainly need to know more about them than I do about Julia Roberts.
I think she would agree.
UPDATE: June 25, 2014
Julia Roberts' photo was deleted from Instagram, so I replaced the image with the one you see above.
Lee Warren is a freelance writer and editor who has written twelve non-fiction books, one novella and hundreds of articles for various newspapers and magazines as well as edited more than 50 books that currently appear in print. He's a fan of NASCAR, baseball, tennis, books, movies and coffee shops.