Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Love Me Like My Dog?

So I was feeding my country music addiction today, and a new song came over the radio. This song perfectly illustrated a point I was trying to make in an earlier column about the nature of Christian love - and so I share it with you.

The song is not serious, of course. But it still contains some rather uncomfortable grains of truth.
Love is often confused with dog-like attachment. When people say that they love someone, what they often mean is that they have a strong positive emotional attraction for that person. Love is merely emotional attachment, and when that emotional attachment dies, that love becomes non-existent.
But real love – Christian love – is more than mere dog-like attachment or a storm of emotion. Christian love is the burning desire for the good of the other person, combined with the action necessary to translate that desire into reality. It is the love illustrated by Christ on the cross, burning with so much love for His creatures that He, Lord of heaven and earth, allowed Himself to be slaughtered by those He made.
I have written elsewhere that God does not love us with the senile love of a doting grandfather, but with the burning fire of a lover. But the love of a lover is more than mere uncritical adoration. The love of a lover is all-consuming, demanding the ultimate perfection of the other.
As the great Christian writer C.S. Lewis writes in the Problem of Pain: “Love may, indeed, love the beloved when her beauty is lost: but not because it is lost. Love may forgive all infirmities and love still in spite of them: but Love cannot cease to will their removal. Love is more sensitive than hatred itself to every blemish in the beloved… Of all powers he forgives most, but he condones least: he is pleased with little, but demands all.”

And Christ demands that His love be embodied and reciprocated  by His creatures. We must share with our fellow creatures the same love our Master has for us - passionate, joyful, all-consuming, willing the ultimate good of the other.

Christ demanded this of His disciples at the Last Supper, declaring: "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another." (John 13:34)

This love demands incredible self-sacrifice. Christ gave Himself up on a cross for our sins. We must be prepared to give ourselves entirely for our fellow humans in the same fashion, if it be God's will.

Christ gaveHimself entirely to us through his sacrifice on the cross - and he demands our undivided love in return. We must give ourselves entirely to Him and His creatures, as He did for us.

 Love demands no less.

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