One of the next tattoos I’m planning to get is “Love Alone”, inspired by Hans Urs von Balthasar’s (what a glorious name!) phrase and book title, Love Alone is Credible. You see, a Truth that’s radically altered my life is “God is Love”. While there are many things said about the Divine, and there’s quite a lot our Creator does, a pinnacle of scriptur names the Mystery behind reality Love.
Love isn’t something God does; it’s who God is. Giving oneself for thriving and flourishing, my definition of Love, is the nature and essence of our heavenly Parent. When asked to sum up the laws of Judaism and the point of life, Jesus said, Love the Source of the world, and everyone, as you love yourself.
While I’ve been a Christ follower my whole life, the image of God I was handed in my youth was of a Being who didn’t like me, and by default was going to send me to hell after I died … unless I believed correctly. This portrait left me terrified and terrible, afraid of life and bad at Love. Something that’s given greater gladness, bigger bliss, and a lovelier life than words can describe, though, is Truths like this:
God is patient; God is kind; God is notenvious or boastful or arrogant or rude. God does notinsist on the Divine’s own way; our Creator is not irritable or resentful; God does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. The Source of life bears allthings, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.(1 Corinthians 13.4-7, NRSV, with “love” replaced by “God”)
With that in mind, here are four ways Divine Love makes life more amazing:
1) Unconditional Love is the Ground of Our Being. A core teaching in Christianity is the Divine’s Love is unconditional. This, my friends, is a massive game changer. It means God’s Love for us doesn’t depend on our performance, our socioeconomic status, our religion, our nationality, our beliefs, or anything else! It simply is … always … because it’s UNCONDITIONAL.
Imagine the Spirit’s kindness and care is water pouring from a faucet. There is NO off lever, because the Spirit’s loving-kindness is ALWAYS pouring out onto EVERYONE, EVERYWHERE. Our Creator’s Love cannot fluctuate, change, or cease, it simply forever flows. In Notes from (Over) the Edge, Jim Palmer puts it like this:
Unconditional love is the underlying, unchanging, and fundamental fact. It is the reality of your life and all things. You are born OUT OF unconditional love, born INTO unconditional love, born AS unconditional love, and TO unconditional love one day you will return.
2) Love is the Law/Path. In the Divine Economy, Love is the currency. When it comes to actions, Love decenters and relativizes everything else. Giving oneself for thriving and flourishing takes priority over everything. I was talking to a yoga student of mine yesterday about setting healthy boundaries in relationships, noting how difficult that is for my wife and I. “What do you find works?” she asks me. Perhaps in a moment of inspiration, I said: Whatever brings the most good to the most people, starting with those near and dear to me.
Here’s another way to think of it. Life has a Flow to it. Like wood, existence has a grain. When we go against the grain we suffer. But when we go withthe Flow, we flourish. LOVE IS THE FLOW OF LIFE.
3) Big/Divine Love is Self-Emptying. Love isn’t easy. It asks something of us, ALL of us … yet NONE of us. Mysteriously, though, serving, giving, emptying, letting go, lowering, humbling, etc. are incredibly filling and bliss bringing. In my mind, Jesus is the epitome of what it means to be human. In reflecting on what made the Christ so spectacular, while encouraging us to do likewise, the Apostle Paul summed it up with the Greek word kenosis, of which the verb form means “to let go” or “to empty oneself”.
Key to note here is self-emptying is NOT self-hating or self-ridding. Truthfully, when I didn’t have a strong sense of self, when I didn’t know I was wildly and massively Loved no ifs, ands, or buts about it, I was unable to give of myself, because one must discover one’s True Self in order to give one’s small self away. What I mean by that is there is an eternal you who is forever loved, immeasurably precious, and always belongs; this is your True Self as created by God. Our small self is our achievements, possessions, titles, activities, status, money, etc., and that’s what Love calls us to let go of to enrich and enliven more people.
While for the sake of time I have to leave tons out on this topic, I will note self-care, which Jesus did regularly, is a necessary sister to others-care. “The truth is that the more mature of heart we are, the more we need to be tended to so that we may give more. The more deeply replenished we are, the more we have to give.”(The Voice of the Heart: A Call to Full Livingby Chip Dodd)
4) Love Blurs Boundaries. One of Jesus’ most famous teachings is “Love your neighbor as yourself.” We typically hear this wrong though, in that we either totally focus on loving neighbors and forget ourselves (my experience), or as Cynthia Bourgeault points out, we think we’re to love others “as much as” ourselves … but that’s NOT what Jesus said. We’re called to love others asourselves, meaning as a continuation of our own being. It’s seeing our neighbor asourselves. It’s recognizing the divine spark within every single being, and divine energy (aka Love) between us all, which erases boundaries and separations between not only people, but also people and creation.
Along these lines, last year I think I had an inspired moment when the following occurred to me: I wonder if the point of life is to increasingly not know where I stop and both others and God begins? As Cynthia says: “There are not two individuals out there, one seeking to better herself at the price of the other, or to extend charity to the other; there are simply two cells of the one great Life. Each of them is equally precious and necessary.”
Love is the point. The more I trust unconditional divine Love is the foundation of reality and that Love is the law, the more I’m able to give of “myself” for the benefit of others, and see there really is no difference or separation between us. What are your thoughts and experiences? You’re amazing and I hope you have an wonderful day!
Grace and peace,