Sunday, 29 October 2017

The centrality of love

The commandment to love is a central tenet of the Christian faith that is proclaimed by Christ as he sums the law of God given in the commandments of God's covenant with the Israelite people (Matt. 22.34-40).  This is perhaps the essence of the Gospel that is given to us to proclaim in our everyday lives.  Yet, these concepts seem to be hard work for the majority especially when it comes to the display of political or institutional power.  Once authority is achieved it seems that these two basic commandments fly out of the window of consciousness rather than being the basis upon which we form our authority.  Although love of God comes first it is out of our love of neighbour that we can even begin to conceive of God's love in our lives as we express that love in our relationships with those around us.  So what is this love that we must give to another in the same way that we give to ourselves.

Love of self is what we do on a constant basis as we place ourselves at the centre of our lives.  It is self love that drives us in an economy that expands on the expression of our self love.  The basis of our whole economic structure is a basis of love of self as we strive to obtain those things that we desire and those things that will please our inner selves.  Consumerism is based on our own self love and we drive that search for the ideal in everything that we can obtain irrespective of its origins in marginalisation or injustice.  There is no weakness here as we strive to strengthen ourselves through the obtaining of our desires. It is circular driving force as we have to have the next thing as it is better and shows our love for ourselves.  We have no thought for anything outside of our own wills and our own needs that drive us in a perpetual striving for fulfillment.  In understanding our own love for ourselves we need to understand the downside of that love.  We need to understand and acknowledge that it is our love for ourselves that does not allow us to look outside of ourselves.  We have to provide for that burning and driving love with no regard for those outside of ourselves and thus we come into a continuing spiral of depression and dis-ease as we are made to be communal and not monadal / singular.

To meld into the other risks our own self love in weakness

Christ commands us to use this love that we apply to ourselves to those around us.  In other words we need in terms of the Gospel to turn our inner love's drive into those outside of ourselves.  This means that we must leave the circle of security which drives our lives.  In leaving the circularity of self love we open ourselves up to dissonance and disruption.  We deliberately make ourselves vulnerable so that the other can claim a part of our self.  This disruption weakens our own inner love and we feel ourselves being drained of our own self realising power as we see the reality of the other.  This is a deliberate subsuming of our desires below the desires of the other, whatever or whoever that other may be.  We do this not in recognition of gain for us as this would be no more then the exercise of our power over others to the glorification of our self (in other words a re-iteration of self love to the detriment of the other). We are asked to do it in the framework of a non-expectatiory move that relegates our self motivations to the back and seek only the well being of the other as we have sought the well being of ourselves in the past.

This non-expectatory move frees us from the cyclical nature of self love as the other responds to our weakness and fills the void created with creative force.  The force of love given freely in return that forms the bonds of relational living and the acknowledgement of others outside of self.  This is the love that God calls us to through Christ's re-iteration of the commandments.  A love that can change the world but only comes to pass when we begin the process by allowing ourselves to become vulnerable in our own love of self.

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