Wednesday, April 28, 2010
The Inseparability of Divine/Human Love
I've been getting prepared to teach a 3-day course on "The Letters of John" this summer. These three brief letters are part of the "General Epistles" in the New Testament, along with James, 1 and 2 Peter and Jude.
One of the major themes of First John is the inseparability of our love for God and our love for each other. The author of this letter puts this theme in the strongest terms possible, "Those who say, 'I love God,' and hate their brothers or sisters are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen" (4:20).
I believe this understanding of the nature of divine/human love is true. We show our love for God by loving each other. Love for God and love for our fellow humans is woven together in such a way that they can't be divided. They are two sides of the same coin.
This truth is sobering. It causes us to look at our lives carefully and examine how we act toward those who are difficult, or seemingly impossible, to love. Again, I return to a view I blogged about earlier: to love is to act in the best interests of the other. I wonder how differently we would act toward others if we understood that we were actually acting toward God.