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So What Is Christian Love?


fatherman
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As Valentine's Day approaches, my mind moves toward the topic of Love. Ok, so the Greeks define multiple kinds of love (philia,eros, and agape)

 

Apostle Paul defines love (agape) in this way

 

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

 

Love never fails.

 

Love is a central principle in The Way. But is Christian love a unique flavor of Love? Does it have unique properties? Does it perhaps lean on certain properties that other Religion's ideals of love do not?

 

Certain elements of Christ's model for love seem to be incompatible with American values. After all, could America allow itself to be broken or diminished if it would benefit the globe?

 

Just how important is this Love thing anyway?

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Well, as you say, Valentine's Day is with us again. "Mrs Tariki" has received hers............ :rolleyes:

 

Maybe whatever "love" involves, it has its own unique texture and expression within each faith. Or is this uniqueness more in the path than in the arrival? To be honest, I have no idea. As a Buddhist looking in at Christianity I often admire - when at its best - its deep egalitarian nature. Often within Buddhist circles there is the "master" / "pupil" syndrome. I often perceive - rightly or wrongly - a sense of "reaching down". Ideally the "master" speaks from "emptiness", from genuine selflessness, in which case there is no "up" "down" or even "across". Yet I say "ideally"....................This is why, in a way, I have gravitated towards Pure Land teachings, which like Christianity - and, again ideally! - are egalitarian in nature, having no "masters".

 

What I am trying to say is held in the words of William Blake......"Mutual forgiveness of each vice opens the gates to paradise".

 

And also in the words of the Trappist monk Thomas Merton, who in speaking of the fact that the "person" can only truly be known "by love", has said....

 

To restore communication, to see our oneness of nature with him, and to respect his personal rights and integrity, his worthiness of love, we have to see ourselves as similarly accused along with him, condemned to death along with him, sinking to the abyss with him, and needing, with him, the ineffable gift of grace and mercy to be saved. Then, instead of pushing him down, trying to climb out by using his head as a stepping-stone for ourselves, we help ourselves to rise by helping him to rise. For when we extend our hand to the enemy who is sinking in the abyss, God reaches out to both of us, for it is He first of all who extends our hand to the enemy. It is He who "saves himself" in the enemy.......

 

Though Pure Land Buddhism has other words and thoughts and teachings, in many ways it has this same foundation of "mutuality"- of reaching across rather than reaching up or down - which I see and understand is the only base for genuine "love". Christians say "in Christ", Buddhists "from emptiness/selflessness/suchness".

 

Is there something "unique" in Christian love? Once again, I have no idea.

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I don't think there is anything uniquely christian about love. The concept of emptiness and genuine selflessness strikes me as the same as truely loving your neighbor as yourself. When you realize that reaching out to another doesn't actually go "out"; that we are all connected (whether we like it or not ;) ) and all more the same than different.

 

When I realize that helping the other is helping myself, it allows my ego and sense of self to diminish in importance and communion within God to increase in importance. Buddhists might call this enlightenment? (I have those fleeting moments that seem like enlightenment.... if only I could hold them... :P ).

 

So, love... I think that love is seeing the other as connected to you - made of the same stuff as you - like you - worthy of the same consideration, respect, and forgiveness you would like shown to you.... it's a hard concept to put into words since people tend to work on division rather than inclusion. Maybe that's it!? Love is inclusive.

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Surely the love that is embodied by Christ and by Buddha transcend their contexts. It's made of the same stuff. And yes, I do believe love is more than an idea, perspective, or behavioral pattern. I believe it is a form of energy. Perhaps it even has its own range of frequency.

 

These two dudes gave us a model for love that may be closer to God's love than humanity had ever previously witnessed.

 

I wonder, though, about Hinduism, Judaism, and Islam. What is the ideal for love here? What is the model? Any Comparitive Religion scholars out there that would care to give as us a brief lesson?

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I'm not a religious scholar, but I think that when Paul wrote that passage from first Corinthians, he believed he was defining Christian love as a unique new quality--love that gave not in order to receive but because giving was its nature. Still, I would guess that every major faith's ideal love arrives at the same place by different routes.

 

A charitable outlook as expressed in that passage includes benevolence, lenient judgment --and a disposition that inclines us to see the best in the words and actions of others. So for instance rather than looking for hierarchy everywhere, one could expect to find equality instead.

 

"Love is a steady wish for the beloved's ultimate good." --C. S. Lewis

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I don't think Paul's vision of the Christly model of love isn't entirely original. I believe it is based on the Greek concept of agape blended with Christ's model. But it is a truly inspired vision of love. What might have been radically new to Jesus' and Paul's audience is that we should love each other this way because God loves us this way. WOW! What a radical view of God!

 

Read this passage one more time and think of a God that loves us that way. In fact, since God is Love, then substitute the word Love with God.

 

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

 

Love never fails.

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What if we organized a rally to have people send a Valentine card to Hassan Nasrallah, Kim Jong Il, or Robert Mugabe or a major leader of similar attitude. If they recieved Valentine cards from around the world, do you think it would have any affect on their anger or their self righteous and egoist attitude toward the world?

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I think we all approach love from different directions. The different religious leaders talked about love in different context and they all are true because love is all encompassing. It all comes down to love, to feel love, to know love.

Edited by soma
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What if we organized a rally to have people send a Valentine card to Hassan Nasrallah, Kim Jong Il, or Robert Mugabe or a major leader of similar attitude. If they recieved Valentine cards from around the world, do you think it would have any affect on their anger or their self righteous and egoist attitude toward the world?

 

People who are likely delusional would assuredly have delusional opinions about receiving such cards whatever their source(s). Throwing pearls before swine ?

 

flow.... ;)

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What if we organized a rally to have people send a Valentine card to Hassan Nasrallah, Kim Jong Il, or Robert Mugabe or a major leader of similar attitude. If they recieved Valentine cards from around the world, do you think it would have any affect on their anger or their self righteous and egoist attitude toward the world?

 

Bobd, I knew I could count on you for an inspired response! I know it's insane, but I've actually given it some thought. It makes me think of what the TM (Transcendental Meditation) movement is doing except in the form of a Hallmark! BTW, the TMers gather in large groups and focus positive energy toward troubled situations with the hope of bringing peace.

 

I've also thought about the Buddhist practice of Tonglen

 

I'm chuckling imagining a sniffling Kim Jong Il sitting atop a pile of 10,000 valentine cards eating a box of chocolates.

Edited by fatherman
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Good thought! To "subsitute the word "love" with "God".

 

God/love keeps no record of wrongs

 

A good one to hold in the heart come "Judgement Day"!!

 

And rivanna...................to love because "giving was its nature". I think that holds the key. When we remain self conscious of "giving" / "loving" and see them as our own accomplishment then perhaps these are the "filthy rags" spoken of in the NT.

 

In the end "we" shall all love "in Christ"..................or from "emptiness/suchness"

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  • 1 month later...
It's interesting... and humbling... to insert your own name for love in the passage from 1 Cor. A good reminder of what it is to be a christian... or follower of christ.... or whatever you want to call it! :rolleyes:

 

Wow, that really does kind of put you into that kind of perspective, like this is what I as a Christian should do. Thanks!

 

I also really liked the idea of substituting "God" for "love" in that passage...it produces a truly amazing depiction of God, IMO.

 

Sending Valentine's Day cards to tyrants? It would certainly embody the concept of loving our enemies. I think it's a great idea, but it would have to be a big movement to generate any attention and make any difference.

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I don't think Paul's vision of the Christly model of love isn't entirely original. I believe it is based on the Greek concept of agape blended with Christ's model. But it is a truly inspired vision of love. What might have been radically new to Jesus' and Paul's audience is that we should love each other this way because God loves us this way. WOW! What a radical view of God!

 

Read this passage one more time and think of a God that loves us that way. In fact, since God is Love, then substitute the word Love with God.

 

Hey fatherman... :D

 

This was the basis of one of my lasts sermons ( before I was declared a heretic and ressigned... lol )... they stated that I was preaching a license to sin... lol

 

The sermon was called "Love is God" and I read 1st Cor 4-8 with God substituted where ever the word Love was...

 

I think many people got where I was coming from... but apparently the Church Board did not... :P

 

Peace & Love

Edited by The Jaded Fool
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Posted Feb 15 2007, 10:24 PM by Cynthia

It's interesting... and humbling... to insert your own name for love in the passage from 1 Cor. A good reminder of what it is to be a christian... or follower of christ.... or whatever you want to call it!

 

Wow, that really does kind of put you into that kind of perspective, like this is what I as a Christian should do. Thanks!

 

Hmmm . . . sound pretty good to me. In fact, I'm pretty sure I said that very thing a couple of thousand years ago. I remember writing that down, and I remember giving that piece of papyrus to my good buddy, John. I'd sure like to know where that codex went, because somehow it ended up in the Epistles instead of the Gospels. Imagine how kind and gracious a person could become if he or she used 1 Corinthians 13: 4 - 8 1/2 as a daily prayer instead of the Lord's Prayer, which I didn't write and which did make it into the Gospels.

 

If you're wondering about verse 8 1/2, you can check it out. The first part of verse 8 says, "Love never ends." I said that. The second part of verse 8 says, "But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end." Nope. That's just not correct from the angels' point of view. Knowledge is a huge part of divine love.

 

Amen to our beloved and blessed Mother and Father. And thanks to Fatherman and Cynthia and McKenna for sharing their loving wisdom.

 

Love Jesus

April 23, 2007

Edited by canajan, eh?
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Yeah, how about that?

 

Love Jesus

<<Smiling>>

 

Our nation has an interesting beginning that is very telling of it's present. Human history in America begins with it's native people. Although the diverse, indegenous tribes of this land didn't lack in factionalism, war, and other human struggles, there is evidence to suggest a deep connection to the Earth and to the Great Spirit that indwells. Not a bad start? Then comes Europe!

Among the many groups that showed up, were the two main forces: the fur industry and communities seeking religious freedom. So we have two very passionate groups. Business men so passionate that they risk travel to the New World to strike it rich. Christians so fanatical that they risk the safety and health of their families to practice their ideal of faith. The fur traders dessimated the beaver population and the rest dessimated the native population. These are the ideals that formed our country: Money at the expense of the Earth and Moralism (also see Manifest Destiny) that results in the suffering of humanity and the erosion of spirituality.

 

<< not smiling anymore >>

 

Ok. So that's a pretty cynical spin on the early formation of America. Good things have happened, too. Our pioneering spirit is also an asset. Historically, our thirst for freedom and justice for all has set a standard for the world.

 

<< may we remember that Christ's path to freedom and justice was born out of love and did not bring suffering to anyone but himself >>

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<<Smiling>>

 

Our nation has an interesting beginning that is very telling of it's present. Human history in America begins with it's native people. Although the diverse, indegenous tribes of this land didn't lack in factionalism, war, and other human struggles, there is evidence to suggest a deep connection to the Earth and to the Great Spirit that indwells. Not a bad start? Then comes Europe!

Among the many groups that showed up, were the two main forces: the fur industry and communities seeking religious freedom. So we have two very passionate groups. Business men so passionate that they risk travel to the New World to strike it rich. Christians so fanatical that they risk the safety and health of their families to practice their ideal of faith. The fur traders dessimated the beaver population and the rest dessimated the native population. These are the ideals that formed our country: Money at the expense of the Earth and Moralism (also see Manifest Destiny) that results in the suffering of humanity and the erosion of spirituality.

 

<< not smiling anymore >>

 

Ok. So that's a pretty cynical spin on the early formation of America. Good things have happened, too. Our pioneering spirit is also an asset. Historically, our thirst for freedom and justice for all has set a standard for the world.

 

<< may we remember that Christ's path to freedom and justice was born out of love and did not bring suffering to anyone but himself >>

 

 

Well said fatherman!!

 

I have been saying this for a long time... good to see that I am not alone!! ;)

 

Peace

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"We are not for names, nor men, nor titles of Government, nor are we for this party nor against the other...but we are for justice and mercy and truth and peace and true freedom, that these may be exalted in our nation, and that goodness, righteousness, meekness, temperance, peace and unity with God, and with one another, that these things may abound." Edward Borrough, member of Friends for Truth (Quaker), 1672.

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"We are not for names, nor men, nor titles of Government, nor are we for this party nor against the other...but we are for justice and mercy and truth and peace and true freedom, that these may be exalted in our nation, and that goodness, righteousness, meekness, temperance, peace and unity with God, and with one another, that these things may abound." Edward Borrough, member of Friends for Truth (Quaker), 1672.

 

 

:D Very Nice!!

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I'd say that all versions of religious love, so to speak, consist of universal love. Freud thought that a love that loved irrespective of the beloved's qualities devalued the very idea of love.

 

Yet the idea of universal love has had perennial appeal. I'd say it speaks to something in us that's profound.

 

Paul

http://www.originalfaith.com/

(For some reason when you click on my info it shows "this page cannot be displayed" but it's seems to be a problem from this end - my site's up and running...)

Edited by Paul
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