The Foundation of Our Love

The knowledge of God’s love is the source and foundation of our love for one another. We cannot strengthen our love through bare strength of will. We cannot become more loving¬† by making love our conscious goal. According to how we are constituted, our love flows when we live in the conscious knowledge of God’s love for us. The more we become secure in how deeply God longs to bless us, cover us, and elevate us to the status of sons, the more we are free from¬† trying to establish our own dignity and righteousness, a trying which ultimately drive us from one another.

In light of all this, the path toward strengthening our love is related to honestly acknowledging our sinfulness in the light of God’s goodness, most clearly seen in the sin-bearing suffering of Jesus. Paul once wrote, “where sin increased, grace increased all the more,” and so it is that through the course of our life when, upon various occasions, we see how deeply sin has marked us, it is then that we can come to a fuller understanding of how deeply God graciously covers us. When it becomes clear to us that despite our sinfulness, God has offered his Son, so that we might unconditionally receive his blessing, we become like the woman who anointed Jesus’ feet with oil and cleansed them with her tears. As Jesus said, “he who has been forgiven little loves little,” and likewise, he who has been forgiven much loves much.

3 Responses to “The Foundation of Our Love”

  1. jaclyn rios  

    Amen! What a great truth to behold!

  2. K.L.B.  

    Anthony, I wanted to respond to this previous entry, however, the response which I composed was not saved. Perhaps, however, I may be! *LOL*

    As I had composed my initial response, I purposely waited… exclusively to examine if my initial response was the best, or if I could have expressed my thoughts any better.

    My thoughts are not meant to be an affront to, nor a contradiction per se, of what you wrote. Yet I realize that what you and others are about to read may appear to contradict what you wrote. I write, however, to raise questions. And in all fairness, I think it proper that I acknowledge that I take point with some of what you’ve written, insofar, at least, that I believe it could be worded better, more concisely – because as I have read, and re-read what you wrote, it appears to be mixing two very distinct ideas, or concepts.

    Love, it’s said, can only exist between two equals.

    We are not equal with God.

    I would like to focus on the act and scripture to which you refer – Mary’s use of her hair to anoint Christ’s feet with costly perfume, and Christ’s comment that “he who is forgiven little loves little,” ref:Luke 7:47 AMP.

    Another translation puts the first part of that verse (which are Christ’s words) this way: “Impressive, isn’t it? She was forgiven many, many sins, and so she is very, very grateful.” MSG

    My initial response was precisely toward that vein – that the proper response to forgiveness of sins is not love, but gratitude. And gratitude flows from a position of subservience, not equality, for the one whom has power (the aggrieved), has judgment ability and authority, and the extension of mercy is at their sole discretion.

    Consider, for example, the case of an adulterous spouse. In a previously equal relationship, one becomes a transgressor. The transgressor admits to such, and the aggrieved spouse forgives. Does that increase spousal love in one or both? Or, does it increase gratitude?

    We are told that in 2 Timothy 3:2,3 that in the last days, humanity will be “lovers of self and [utterly] self-centered, lovers of money and aroused by an inordinate [greedy] desire for wealth, proud and arrogant and contemptuous boasters. They will be abusive (blasphemous, scoffing) disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy and profane. [They will be] without natural [human] affection (callous and inhuman), relentless (admitting of no truce or appeasement); [they will be] slanderers (false accusers, troublemakers) intemperate and loose in morals and conduct, uncontrolled and fierce, haters of good.” AMP

    If one were to suffer the above abuses – there are more, but I truncated, which in no way detracts from the idea – then one could take offense, or grant forgiveness were transgression extant or historical, requested or not. Forgiveness would not change the forgiver, but the forgiven, which again is a position of gratitude based upon acknowledged subservience.

    Such acknowledged subservience is a voluntary one; it is a submission knowing full well that one could “lord it (the transgression) over” the other. And desiring a relationship, the transgressor voluntarily seeks appeasement.

    And yet, gratitude is not love; for love – at least in Christian context – is a verb. It does something.

    Love, or perhaps more accurately, the acts of love (there are many, and we see how love behaves illustrated in 1 Corinthians 13 – the so-called “love chapter”) reflect a position of power and authority, dignity and benevolence – the seeking of the good of and for the other.

    You write also about “how deeply God longs to bless us, cover us, and elevate us to the status of sons,” etc., and attempt to correlate that with an independent (I presume you mean the sense meaning apart from God) establishment of righteousness.

    Some time ago, it became apparent to me that we are all God’s children… whether we believe it or not. I analogize thusly:

    “If I, growing up, were have to denied my biological father’s parentage of me, it would not have changed the fact of the matter, that he was (and is) my father. At the point in which I would have acknowledged the truth of the matter – that he was (and is) my father, the only thing that would change would be the character and nature of our relationship.”

    Parentage is a fact. Our acknowledgment of the fact only changes our internal mindset, specifically, the way we think about relationship.

    Since I am fond of analogies (they ARE effective teaching tools, wouldn’t you agree?), I will conclude with one.

    If a starving man were to be seated at a fully-prepared banqueting table, upon which was served the most luscious food, vegetables, meats, breads, tasty delicacies of every kind, beverages of all descriptions, desserts and more, whose fault would it be were he to walk away hungry and claim “there was nothing to eat”?

    We have been and are invited to the banqueting table, and the banner over us is love. (ref: Song of Solomon 2:4) Whether we attend and dine – or not – is entirely up to us.

    The food is prepared, the table is spread.

    Let’s eat!

  3. Anthony Velez  

    Kevin – I am not sure why you say that “love can only exist between two equals.” Central to the Xian faith is the belief that God is love, and that he demonstrated his love for us by sending his Son to redeem us. As you said, we are not equal to God, yet he loves us, and so there exists a love relationship between unequals. Perhaps you meant that our love is not equal to that of God’s, it is not a reciprocal love relationship. If so, I completely agree, but I still assert that God constituted us to become all that we were meant to become in the context of a love relationship with him.

    I also, agree with you that a proper response to God’s forgiveness is gratitude. However, this does not preclude love as a proper expression of our response to grace. In my brief post I mentioned being constituted in a particular way. As I synthesize my understanding of human nature based upon Scripture and the Xian Tradition, humanity was structured to have their being in an intimate relationship with God, in which the very Spirit of God inhabits us, and becomes part and parcel of who we are most fully meant to be. Again, as I look at the testimony of Scripture and the witness of the Church, the Spirit’s work and habitation is closely connected to Jesus’ offering on the Cross. Since God is love, and the source of all true love, it seems to me that our human agency functions in some manner as a conduit of God’s love. Yes, it is us loving, insofar as we are responsible beings, and yet it is also God loving through us, and this “through us” is possible because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross.

    Regarding sonship, there is a sense in which we are all God’s children. We are all made in God’s image, and he is in some sense our Father by virtue of being our creator. On the other hand, the Scriptures are quite clear that there is a unique sonship that Christians partake of when they are united to Christ by faith through the work of the Spirit. We become partakers of Jesus’ ontological sonship, and so as Irenaeus and other Church Fathers have said, “we become by grace what Jesus is by nature.”

    In your analogy you liken the status of humanity as ones who have been brought to a bounteous table but who, for whatever reason, don’t eat. I think it is more analogically accurate to say that humanity may freely come to that table, but they can’t get to the table unless they acknowledge whose table it is. To complicate matters a little more, some have come to the table, by acknowledging whose table it is, but they are still feasting on rotting bread taken from their native lands.