‘Love’ is a big word that encompasses so many different kinds of experiences in life, but we can break it down into the natural and the supernatural loves. The natural loves are those God creates in us even as he forms us in our mother’s womb. These are Eros (which is romantic love), Philia (which is enjoyment, fondness, and friendship), Storge (which is family loyalty), and Charity (which is helping the less fortunate). The supernatural loves are those breathed into us by the Holy Spirit – as God comes to live within us.
As He begins to lead us, and we allow our feet, our arms and our hands to become instruments of His will, our hearts become His heart and these natural loves are extended, gradually leading us onward until we can participate in His Divine love.
Who is my neighbour?
What does Divine love look like? We know of Christ’s example and command to love our enemies. This is just not possible without Christ in us. Christ gives us instructions to love our neighbours as ourselves. Our neighbours are all people: politicians, lawyers, Democrats, Republicans, Conservatives, Liberals, Communists, Socialists, tax cheaters, and tax payers. Neighbours include he unemployed, the poor, the rich, the greedy, the robbers and the extortionists. Even the addicts, the slaves, the free people, the proud, and the humble. Our neighbours are also the Protestants, the Hindus, the Catholics, the Mormons, the Jehovah Witnesses, and the Muslims. Yes, and even the rapists and the pedophiles.
We must love all
Respecting all people, seeing them in the light of God’s love for them, although we may abhor what they do. To love one’s enemy we are compelled to do away with an “us” versus “them” mentality. “Us” being good versus “them” being bad. It is no longer: “they are sinners” but rather “we are all sinners”.
Divine love does not judge, demonize, or put people in boxes. Love is kind and respectful. Many people are very compassionate, loving, tolerant and peaceable, who may, or may not realize that these attributes are God given, while others are intolerant, picky, angry or violent and need God’s grace to enable them to respect others.
God’s grace could be defined as “unmerited favour” or perhaps a better definition is “unconditional love.” This means that we are loved whether or not we do good, do bad, or are apathetic. We are not loved less when we do bad and we don’t earn love by doing good. As we become aware of God’s unconditional love for us, we can extend that love in our encounters with others. Let’s stop judging and allow love and respect to flow. We are living in His Grace and extending it to others.
If we do these things we just might turn the world upside down!