Thursday, September 21, 2006

Love seeks not its own

The way Jesus has called us to love one another really is otherworldly. Everywhere you look in the Gospels and in the rest of the New Testament the word for love is agapē, as opposed to eros. The type of love we're to live in, above all things, "seeketh not her own" (1 Cor. 13:5). It's not obvious to us right off the bat, but how often what we call love has mingled with it at least some measure of seeking some measure of love or self-profit from the beloved: his aid, her affection, his continued friendship. When love seeks a response from the beloved back toward the lover, it goes bankrupt.

When we who go by the name "Christian" aim toward Spiritual love, as Bonhoeffer so often insists, our relations with others must be solely mediated through Jesus Christ, the one who is among us "as the one who serves" (Luke 22:27). That is, it is to live in our freedom from needing to bind ourselves directly to others. Finding ourselves in Christ means that we're already complete (Col. 2:9-10) and now freed for others, serving not ourselves but our Lord and the God whose image they bear.

This is why Jesus teaches us to love our enemies. The normal person would weep over unrequited love, because the enemy will not serve him back or give himself in return. Jesus didn't stop loving his own people after crying, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem . . . how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing" (Luke 13:34). He lived in his divine freedom to serve others.

O Lord, teach us to love. Free us from ourselves and our selfish desires and corrupt motives. Give us eyes to see the truth that "we love because he first loved us," that we are so entirely possessed by God and that we truly possess him as well, lacking nothing, that we can be freed to be your lips, your hands to others. Amen.

1 comment:

Joe Fremer said...

Have you read C.S. Lewis' THE FOUR LOVES? It really opened my eyes to a lot of things.

Teaser: "(Human) Love, once it is made into a god, becomes a demon."