23 April 2009

The Father Loves the Son

"The Father loves the Son and has given everything over to Him." (John 3:35)

"The Father loves the Son." Notes that children pass in school (or used to!) sound like this. How appropriate that our first tries at love are modeled on the love of God! What other model is there? At this time of year especially, I see a lot of human loves budding out all around me among the students.

The adventure of Trinitarian love is the story of the Christian life. I can hear you now: "What is he talking about?" Because the Holy Trinity is a loving communion of persons, our life is love. This is the Christian message. It is therefore of the first importance to know how to love.

We really are not very good at it, left on our own. Jeremiah says that: "More tortuous than all else is the human heart, beyond remedy; who can understand it?" (Jeremiah 17:9)
Fortunately, God has revealed love to us; and that revelation is perfected in Jesus Christ. All of God's love for us is mediated through the person of Jesus Christ. If we want to love well -- and who doesn't? -- then we must submit our love to Jesus and let it pass through the purification of His heart. Love goes awry when we try to "use" it on our own. Loves become selfish in this way. This is true for friendships, for boy- and girl-friendships, for love of parents or children, even for lesser loves like the love of things. The love that Jesus shows us is always sacrificial. Jesus gives everything to the Father, and the Father "has given everything over to Him."

What does this mean in reality? It means, for example, that you offer your love for your friend to the Lord for the glory of God and for the good of the friend. That means that the friend might be blessed in a way that changes your friendship. You rejoice in that rather than feeling hurt by it.

It means, for example, that you offer your love for your girl-friend to Jesus -- you see her through His eyes. This will keep your relationship pure. You won't be tempted to ask: "Since we love each other, it must be alright to ..." You will see that such "love" cannot be real because it does not accord with the love of God, the source of all love.

Like the "Last Duchess" of Browning's poem, who "liked whate'er/ She looked on, and her looks when everywhere," our loves are unruly. Focus them all on the heart of Jesus, and He will purify them. If you have a love that cannot pass through the heart of Jesus, then it is a counterfeit of love.

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