For the love of God
Published 7:00 am Saturday, February 27, 2016
It is a daily challenge to truly love. In today’s parlance, the overuse of the word, “love,” diminishes the very meaning and the true impact. Expressions, such as, “I just love your new outfit,” or “I love you,” while said, perhaps for situational advantage, are being directed towards a person who may provide a return benefit. This activity denotes an express lack of dignity, for us and for others. It is hardly what true love is.
Bernard of Clairvaux writes in his book, On Loving God, “Consider that dignity without wisdom is nothing worth; and wisdom is harmful without virtue.” Here, Bernard means by dignity the quality that every person has because they were created by God. It is a basic human quality which flows, from God, into all of creation. Yet without wisdom, the knowledge this quality flows from God, we are no more than fools pretending to be wise. Wisdom must be tempered with virtue, or it will do much more harm than good and real love is at the center.
It is in our search for God and the return to God, the love God first had for us. The act of creation and the providing of food, air, and light for all humanity speaks of a continuing love for humankind. Whether believed, or not. If we do not understand wisdom it is also a gift from God, then we will look at the dignity, which we possess, and think that we have secured it all by our own efforts. When this happens we find what God had given to us out of love, is turned into something that leads to self-importance and self-aggrandizement, rather than the love of God. Consider that wisdom is turned against the very creator, who gave it to us!
We often find what God had meant for good, man has used for ill. We, the creation, attack our creator with the very instruments which were supposed to affirm the creator, rather than to deny him. This is why the affirmations of knowledge, dignity and wisdom, which are gifts from God, and are to lead us to God. They are focused on and mitigated by virtue, as the returning to God of the love which He first showed to us.
The blessings of dignity and wisdom carry with it the responsibility to seek the one who has blessed us with them, rather than to believe we have acquired them all by ourselves. Surely, we are not worthy of God’s love, and yet he loves us still.
This is a great mystery of God and a great truth of his love.
We, as Christians, know we are commanded to love God. It is not a request, even if the compliance with that demand is voluntary. At the end of time, it will be the love of God, which will separate the sheep from the goats. It is the striving of the human heart for its creator, not the success of that effort, which will determine our eternal fate.
This demand, while absolute, does not demand perfection, but it is the quality of our love, as imperfect as it is, which is all that matters to God. As we grow closer to him, He will make us capable of greater and greater love for him. What a glorious and merciful God we worship and truly love.