Thursday, January 9, 2014

Love Is Hard Work

"Beloved, we love God because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. This is the commandment we have from him: Whoever loves God must also love his brother." - 1 John 4:19-21

It is so disappointing to hear when people, who profess a belief in and love for God, choose words and take actions that provoke hate for another person. This is not of God. This doesn't mean we cannot be angered, frustrated, and perturbed by the choices people make or the actions they take. However, when we take those emotions and direct them at others with hateful words and actions we are no better than the awful act that provoked our initial response to begin with. Do others do things that are hateful and wrong? Of course it happens and when it does it is no doubt wrong! However, as Christians, our response cannot be hate. It must always be love. This is not a love that pretends the wrong never happened, but a love that differentiates a person from his actions and chooses to address the wrong not with hateful speech or actions, but with concern for the soul of the other and the common good of all. We must rise above the wrong and stay true to who we are as followers of Christ. Don't jump into the mud with everyone else. The only thing that comes from jumping in the mud is that then we are all filthy. At the same time, we cannot run away from the problems because this also doesn't make things better nor relieves us of our responsibility. Life is not easy for anyone. We all carry our own baggage and deal with our own struggles. Hate is the easy way out! Love is much harder work. However, in the end, love is the only thing that leads us closer to God who is Love. If you can't differentiate a wrong act from the person, how can we expect God to do the same with us? There will be those who will make their choices and it won't be of God. They will have to answer for their choices, but so will we. Be mindful of your words and actions. Be attentive of how you address wrong. Always choose to respond with love for your brother and when we do, we come to love God even more!

“The person who loves God cannot help loving every man as himself, even though he is grieved by the passions of those who are not yet purified. But when they amend their lives, his delight is indescribable and knows no bounds. A soul filled with thoughts of sensual desire and hatred is unpurified. If we detect any trace of hatred in our hearts against any man whatsoever for committing any fault, we are utterly estranged from love for God, since love for God absolutely precludes us from hating any man.” --St. Maximos the Confessor

"Spread love everywhere you go: first of all in your own house. Give love to your children, to your wife or husband, to a next door neighbor... Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness in your warm greeting." --Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta