Saturday, April 2, 2011

Unconditional Love

                “The God-relationship is the mark whereby love towards men is recognized as genuine love. As soon as a love-relationship does not lead me to God, and as soon as I in a love-relationship do not lead another person to God, this love, even if it were the most blissful and joyous attachment, even if it were the highest good in the lover's earthly life, nevertheless is not true love. The world can never get through its head that God in this way not only becomes the third party in every relationship of love but essentially becomes the only loved object, so that it is not the husband who is the wife's beloved, but it is... God, and it is the wife who is helped by the husband to love God, and conversely, and so on. The purely human conception of love can never go further than mutuality: that the lover is the beloved and the beloved is the lover. Christianity teaches that such a love has not yet found its proper object: God. The love-relationship is a triangular relationship of the lover, the beloved, love--but love is God. Therefore to love another person means to help him to love God and to be loved means to be helped." –Kierkegaard
             Can this be true? If it is, the love of the world is in stark contrast to this truth. What is unconditional love?  1 John 4: 7-12. “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God, everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us; He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning SACRFICE for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”
           So God is love, but this particular passage doesn’t tell us what love is.  Jesus teaches that love is not an idea, or a conception, rather it is an action.  John 15: 12-13 says, “My command is this; Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”  So then love is sacrifice, and sacrifice is love.  ‘Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.’  We can then infer that whoever does not sacrifice does not know God because God is sacrifice.  
                Yet I would like to put forward, that the truth of love is not yet complete.  From what has been deduced above, all one needs to do is sacrifice themselves for another.  I would like to pose the argument that we cannot love anyone in and of themselves, because then it would be conditional love and not true love at all.  The love of the world again is based on conditions, characteristics, or similarities of one person to another; which are all conditions that have the propensity to change.  Even a mother’s love for her child is conditional, for it is based on the condition of the proximity of the relationship.  Unless the mother loved all children, even those of her enemies, the love for her child would be conditional and therefore not love at all.  We as humans are sinful, we think one thing one day, only to find it is changed the next.  Our characteristics change, our attitudes change, and even our understanding changes.  In fact most of our relationships our based on our own needs and desires, rather than for the others.  What the world honours and loves under the name of love is group-selfishness. The group also demands sacrifice and devotion from the one whom it is to call loving. It demands that he shall sacrifice a portion of his own selfishness in order to maintain the united group-selfishness. And it demands that he shall sacrifice the God-relationship in order to unite in a worldly way with the group which locks God out or at most takes him along for the sake of appearance." Kierkegaard
                “Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.  All the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments (Matthew 22:37-40).”  Jesus does not tell us to love our neighbor or ourselves with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, but only God is worthy of all our being.  "In any relationship if God and the relationship to God have been left out, then, Christianly understood, this has not been love but a mutual and enchanting illusion of love. For to love God is to love oneself in truth; to help another human being to love God is to love another man; to be helped by another human being to love God is to be loved (Kierkegaard)."
                This tears our identity away from ourselves; the love of God takes all power and control from our grasps.  This should not only shock us, but repulse us! For it is contrary to our sinful nature. Not only are we not loveable, but we also cannot love apart from Him.  “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.  You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you.  No branch can bear fruit by it-self; it must remain in the vine.  Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me (John 15:1-4).”  This is completely contrary to the love that is normally thought to exist.  We yearn and fight tooth and claw to claim independence from God.  We want to be worthy, we want to be adequate, we want to justify our lives and live them for our own sake.  God, through Jesus, does not leave this as an option.  The fallen world is set against us.  We need God, he does not need us.  "His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him; 'What have you done?'" -Daniel 4:34-35
                 The love of the world is conditional, and selfish, without Jesus we live in a false community.  A community built on false presuppositions and superfluous activities; qualifying and quantifying relationships based on conditional characteristics.  "But when a friend, a beloved, lovers, and associates notice that you want to learn from God what it is to love instead of learning from them, they will very likely say to you, 'Spare yourself. Give up this eccentricity. Why take life so seriously? Cut out the straining, and we will live a beautiful, rich, and significant life in friendship and joy.' And if you give in to the suggestions of this false friendship, you will be loved and praised for your love. But if you will not, if in loving you will be a traitor neither to God nor to yourself nor to the others, you must expect to be called selfish."Kierkegaard
                Only God is unchangeable, he is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  In Him we live, move, breath, and have our being.  Only He is worthy of love and devotion, and only because of his love for our fellow man do we love them in due accord. This is by necessity, not by choice.  We either abide in Him, and He in us, or we live superficial lives built on a foundation of lies and half truths neither loving nor being loved. 
"In any relationship if God and the relationship to God have been left out, then, Christianly understood, this has not been love but a mutual and enchanting illusion of love. For to love God is to love oneself in truth; to help another human being to love God is to love another man; to be helped by another human being to love God is to be loved." Kierkegaard