The love of God and neighbor is the ultimate cure for judgmentalism. You cannot simultaneously love God while treating people with contempt. Light drives out darkness. Love drives out contempt. Let’s admit it. You and I do not know love very well. We’ve got a long way to go.[featured-image single_newwindow=”false”]
God’s Love is Transforming Action Not Merely A High Ideal
You cannot think your way into love. True love comes from a Source outside yourself. The Trinity possesses perfect love. Therefore, the love you need for others can only be perfected as you live in the life of the Trinity. Thinking about God’s love affects the mind, which has its benefits. Singing about love may stir emotions but does little to transform your heart. Quoting verses about love allows it to remain a noble concept or high ideal. God’s love is more than that.
When Jesus speaks of love (see Matthew 5-7 and Luke 6.20-49), he places it in the context of action. Love is:
- showing mercy
- making peace
- rejoicing when treated badly
- reconciling with a brother
- cutting off what causes you to sin
- turning the other cheek when attacked
- giving to the one who asks
- loving your enemies
- praying for those who harm you
- giving to the needy
- forgiving others
- fasting in secret
- serving only God not wealth
- seeking first God’s kingdom and righteousness
- doing to others as you wish others would do to you
- recognizing false teachers
- doing the will of the Father
- building your life on living out Jesus’ teachings
None of us love like that. It is imperative then, that we purify our hearts in repentance and faith, moving steadily into humility and communion with Love so that His love is nurtured within.
God’s Love Is Nurtured Over Time
St. Symeon the New Theologian (949-1042), provides the image of love taking shape within the soul as a pearl takes form within an oyster. The pearl is not of us but is of heaven, the Trinity.
Imagine that the love of God is sown in us in just the same ways as they say that the pearl in the open shell is conceived by the dew of heaven and the lightning. When the soul hears of the sufferings of Christ…and little by little believes in them, it opens up in proportion to its faith where, before, it had been closed by unbelief. And, when it has been opened, the love of God, like a kind of heavenly dew which is joined with an ineffable light, falls immaterially on the heart in the guise of lightning and takes the form of a shining pearl. Concerning this pearl, our Lord says that when the merchant had found it, he went off and sold all his belongings and bought it. So too, he who has been deemed worthy of believing…of finding the intelligible pearl of the one of God in himself, does not stop at nearly despising all things and distributing all his belongings to the poor, but allows those who wish even to pillage them in order that he may keep his love for God inviolate and wholly undiminished. (On the Mystical Life: The Ethical Discourses, Volume 2: On Virtue & Christian Life)
Nothing keeps the true believer from pursuing God’s love.
He continues to describe the perfecting of love and its expression. Into a humble and contrite heart God comes and makes his home, dispersing the passions and filling the heart with the fruit of the Spirit and the revelation of the “abyss of the hidden mysteries of God.”
Therefore, the primarily “necessity of the Christian is to cultivate repentance, tears, and purity of heart” (p. 101, introductory comments by Alexander Golitzin). More on this thought in my next post.
The love of God banishes contempt and judgmentalism. Give your life entirely to the love of God and watch your judgments morph into Christlikeness.
I pray your life and mine will contain “the pearl of great price” nurturing it to grow more beautiful every day.
How are you nurturing the pearl within? What actions can you take to cultivate God’s love in and through you?