"I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else."
C. S. Lewis

Monday, July 1, 2013

We Love, Because He First Loved Us

We Love, Because He First Loved Us

“THOU SHALT love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it [or, of the same nature], thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang  [literally, ‘sums up’] all the law and the prophets [i.e. everything God the Father has hitherto revealed to you].” Matthew 22:37-40

“If I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have [e.g. to the poor], and if I deliver my body to be burned [e.g. martyred] , but have not love, I gain nothing.  Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.” 1 Cor. 13:2-8

 “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.... Little children, let us not love in word or speech but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3:14-18

 “All  of us pray for you, and for all men, as our Christ and Lord taught us to do. For He commanded us to pray even for our enemies, and to love those who hate us, and to bless those who curse us.... Jesus commanded us to love even our enemies, as was predicted by Isaiah in many passages.” St. Justin Martyr, ANF  1.266 & 242

“Loving one’s enemies does not mean loving [or accepting] wickedness, ungodliness, adultery, or theft. Rather, it means loving the thief, the ungodly person, and the adulterer [i.e. even as God loves each of us, wretched sinners that we are]. Not as far as he sins (in respect of the actions by which he stains the name of man), but as he is a man and is the work of God [i.e. created in His image].” St. Clement of Alexandria, ANF 2.426

So, what sort of love does Christ and His Saints speak of? “God the Trinity is our archetype of love.... Human love, just as man himself, and as woman herself, can be a glorious image of divine love. Nothing less than that, but also not more. The Christian way of life is marked by this striking paradox: God approaches one even when one is least like God. Humility enables one to love. In recognizing one’s limitations one is able to transcend them.” [quote from John Chryssavgis,  Love, Sexuality, and the Sacrament of Marriage (Brookline: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 1998) p. 2.]
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