Sunday, February 14, 2021

Identifying Love

Propers for Quinquagesima

Sermon for Quinquagesima

St Paul talks of love and we know that it's this unconditional love that we can have for each other. We also know that God is love and that He commands us to love Him and to love our neighbour.

How can love be a commandment? Can God be such an insecure tyrant as to demand that we love Him?


Ah! He commands that we love Him. He does not demand that we love Him.

Just as He commands the universe to be, just as He commands fire to be hot, just as He commands gravity to hold planets and galaxies together and electricity to power motors and just as He commands human beings to be a fusion of body, mind and spirit, so does He command us to love because He wants us to share His life with us.

If God is love then love needs to be shared and God has created us to share it. Love unites us to God. There is nothing that can separate from God's love for us except our own non-existence. His love for us is unconditional. If we are to know what love is then we must begin with God. This is why this commandment is first. In order to love our neighbour, we must first love God.

Can human beings love anything unconditionally?


What stops us from loving unconditionally is sin. A conditional love is not the love from God because God's love is unconditional. Thus any restriction on love must be the consequence of sin somewhere down the line, either directly our fault or the consequence of others' sins. The fact that we need marriage vows in the first place arises precisely because they can be broken.

There is a further trouble. We might not put conditions on our love for someone else but we can and do put conditions on what it means for someone to love us. Sometimes we claim that we cannot be loved unless we are loved for who we are.
Sometimes we claim that unless we are not accepted as we are, we cannot be loved.


The trouble is that, actually, we don't get to say who we are: God does. God gives us being but we shape our being with what we do. If we sin then we distort ourselves and must return to our Creator. If we make sin part of ourselves and demand that people accept that sin, then we deprive ourselves of God because we are separating ourselves from Him.


We hear people say, "God loves me for who I am!" This is true. But when we say that, what we often mean is, "God loves me for who I say I am!' and that is not true. God does not love us for who we say we are. He loves us for who we are. 

If we want to be loved for who we say we are then God will give us what we want. It will be so much less than what He offers. It will be less than unity with Him. It will be separation - eternally so. It will be Hell. 

God's love can only be fulfilled by returning to Him and allowing ourselves to be loved for who we really are. This means a sacrifice of things which stand in the way. This means a rejection of things which tell us that we are something less than who we really are. This means a fast from good things in order to find better things. This means a fast from seeking the fulfillment of the lusts of the flesh in order to find reunion with God through the humanity of Christ Jesus Our Lord.


Our actions do shape ourselves which is why we are justified by faith and works together. Our Lenten fast must be an action that turns us to the Light of Christ so that we can strip away the conditions that we put on loving and being loved. The result will be a fulfillment of God's commandments to love and an Eternity of knowing exactly how God loves us. 

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