Love is not really an action that you do. Love is what and who you are, in your deepest essence.
Love is a place that already exists inside of you, but is also greater than you. That’s the paradox. It’s within you and yet beyond you. This creates a sense of abundance and more-than-enoughness, which is precisely the satisfaction and deep peace of the True Self. You know you’ve found a well that will never go dry, as Jesus says (see John 4:13-14). Your True Self, God’s Love in you, cannot be exhausted.
Material gifts decrease when you give them away. Spiritual gifts, by contrast, increase the more you use them. Yes! You get more love by letting it flow through you, just as modeled by the Trinity. If you love, you will become more loving. If you practice patience, you will become more patient. If you stop the Divine Flow, you will be stopped up (“sin”).
Love is not something you can bargain for, nor is it something you can attain or work up to—because love is your very structural and essential identity—created in the image of the Trinity. When you are living in conscious connection with this Loving Inner Presence, you are in your True Self. God is forever united to this love within you; it is your soul, the part of you that always says yes to God. God always sees God in you—and “cannot disown God’s own self” (2 Timothy 2:13).
Many Christians live with a terrible sense of being rejected, because their religion is basically a worthiness game where no one really wins. That’s precisely not the Good News. It’s bad news.
The Gospel will always be misinterpreted by the false self in terms of some kind of climbing or achieving. Since the false self can’t even understand the command to love one’s enemies, it has to disregard the message as naive, which is exactly what most of Christian history has done.
Jesus’ rather clear teaching on love of enemies has been consistently ignored by all the mainline churches. Christians have been fighting one war after another, and excluding, torturing, and killing enemies right and left because the false self can never understand the Gospel. Yet we have been baptizing, confirming, giving communion to, and even ordaining false selves throughout our history. It is probably unavoidable, and God surely must be patient.
Once, after I gave an anti-war sermon, a businessman came up to me and said, “Well, Father, maybe in an ideal world. . . .” I know he meant well, but that’s what we’ve done with most of the teaching of Jesus. We interpret his meaning for some ideal world. Of course, the ideal world is never going to come so we can just ignore 99% of the actual teaching of Jesus, as the institutional church (and I too!) have usually done. We concentrate instead on things that Jesus never once talked about, like birth control, homosexuality, and abortion—bodily “sins” because the body can most easily carry shame. We shouldn’t disregard bodily shame or addictions, but they are not the core problem.
Jesus focused on issues of power, prestige, and possession—which all of us have largely ignored. I don’t think the church has had intentional bad will. It has simply tried to get the false self to live the Gospel, and that will never work. In other words, we’ve tried to have a church without fundamental transformation. Thus, we whittle down the whole Sermon on the Mount, and Jesus’ direct teaching that “he who lives by the sword dies by the sword” (Matthew 26:52); and we look for absolutes in ever new secular places—like the 2nd Amendment to the United States Constitution which allows us to carry weapons. And this is done by a vast majority of Bible-quoting Christians.
*These thoughts were originally shared as one of Richard’s Daily Meditations. Sign up for them here.