Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Most Important Word

What is the most important word? Mission? Meaning? Mercy? Forgiveness? Humility? Grace? Yes, these are all very important words. But can it be the single most important word?

"Religion is nothing else but love of God and man." William Penn.

"Love, to be real, must cost--it must hurt--it must empty us of self." Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
"A fresh interpretation of love is needed in all sections of Protestatantism, an interpretation that shows that love is basically not an emotional but an ontological power, that it is the essence of life itself, namely, the dynamic reunion of that which is separated." Paul Tillich, The Protestant Era, 1948.

"The biggest disease today is not leprosy or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling of being unwanted, uncared for and deserted by everybody. The greatest evil is the lack of love and charity, the terrible indifference towards one's neighbor who lives at the roadside assaulted by exploitation, corruption, poverty and disease." Mother Theresa.

"Is love a feeling? Is love an act? Is love an art? Is love voluntary or involuntary, or both? How is self-love related to love of neighbor? Does love extend to enemies? What is the relation of love to sexuality? Can love be commanded? Is love redemptive? Is love divine? Is divinity love? How does love form and inform our existence?" Carter Lindberg, Love: A Brief History Through Western Civilization, 2008.

"A definition of love is especially necessary because love ... is the point of everything. If we do not know what this love is ... then we do not know the point of everything. We only know the word. If we are to put all our eggs in love's basket, what could be more practical, more essential, than to know it is the right basket and not another?" Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You.

Love is the "superstar virtue of virtues" and has to be "the most watered down word in the English language." Krista Tippett, Becoming Wise, 2016. To define love better we must get past the conventional definitions of love, such as a term of endearment, a feeling of strong attachment or deep affection, sexual passion, or the beloved who is the object of such feelings.

"Agape describes a life-enhancing action that flows from God to humans (Rom 8:37; 2 Cor 9:7) and vice versa (Mt 22:37). The commandment to love regulates human conduct within the church: 'Love one another' (Jn 13:34; 1 Thess 4:9; 1 Pet 1:22; 1 Jn 3:11; 2 Jn 5); and husbands are commanded to love their wives (Eph 5:25, 28; Col 3:19). But those outside are to be loved: the neighbor (Rom 13:9) and enemies (Mt 5:44; Lk 6:28, 35)." William Klassen, Love (NT and Early Jewish Literature), 1992.

"Grandfathers are kind. Fathers are loving. Grandfathers say, 'Run along and have a good time.' Fathers say, 'But don't do this, and don't do that.' Grandfathers are compassionate, fathers are passionate. God is not called our Grandfather in Heaven. The most frequently heard saying in our lives today is precisely the philosophy of the grandfather: 'Have a nice day.'" Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You, 2004.

"God loves you immensely." Chiara Lubich.

"Love God and do whatever you please; for the soul trained in love to God will do nothing to offend the One who is Beloved." Augustine.

"If you love God, you cannot fear him; if you fear God, you cannot love him." Old Serbian proverb.