We need love to live. While this seems to be a truism bordering on cliche, it is in reality a revolutionary statement. We need love. Yet, the world is full of misconceptions about the nature of love. The reason because love as been defined in our consumeristic culture as total acceptance of another’s desires and lusts. Call this hedonistic love. But, this meaning rejects both the Christian definition of love and the reality of love.
As I raise my son, I have to give him a special sort of attention. Yes, such attention comes with correctives, but the correctives come from wanting the best for him and he knows it. If I just blindly accepted his actions as the false love of unconditional love tells to do, then I would not love him, but be indifferent to him. Any parent can tell you that unconditional love leads to mayhem, and in reality indifference.
Love for a Christian means to be with another as God is with us. The glory of the incarnation of Jesus is that we believe God loved us so much God became a man to be with us, to share space with us. Love means to give attention by wanting to be with us. When we are with people or with God in prayer, we connect and we love. We have to manage our own disappointments with the other and the only way to do so is to forgive. If I unconditionally accept another, then their is no room for forgiveness and their is nothing to forgive. That makes for good sit-coms or silly Hollywood romantic comedies, but life is not a sit-com and without forgiveness, we sit in our own bitterness.
I know my son knows I love him as he continues to cry out to me. I can tell my wife I love her until I am blue in the face, but only in spending time together does that love incarnate in our lives. If we are with each other, face to face, then love appears. Such a love is not reduced just to family, but when I with another even as we pass each other on the bus or on the street, love appears. That is what I have come to understand: Jesus’ twin commandments of loving God and loving others. Only in loving others can I find God, and that means paying attention to my love and those in front of me.
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