"That which does no earthly good cannot be heavenly minded." R. Rivera

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Greatest of These is Love

By Ruben Rivera© 2 April 2011

"Jesus was all right. But his disciples were thick and ordinary. It's them twisting it that ruins it for me."
John Lennon
I want to thank all of you who contributed your thoughts to my last post "God may have spoken, but our problems are not over."

Among the themes that came through fairly consistently was that the reason religion (Christianity included) has often produced only mediocre results in making the world a better place, is the lack of understanding and consistently living by love.

"Love" of course can mean many things to many people. However, the Christian scriptures (or "New Testament") are very clear about the definition. What is more, the New Testament teaching on love is remarkably plain spoken and consistent. It is not a secret available only to those fortunate in blind luck or illuminating genius. In other words, we can all pretty much "get it". This is crucial for any religion or principle if it wishes to be translatable and living in any context.

Love is practical action, not romanticized idea. It is not conditional. It does not depend on whether I woke up on the right side of the bed today. It does not depend on whether another person is "worth" loving as I judge love, the person, the situation, all three.

Loving includes that person who just ran me off my freeway lane, or the person who treated me like something on the bottom of their shoe while I was in the grocery check out line. This does not mean I agree with that person, or that he/she didn't just hurt me or make me feel angry.

It means that love is greater than and therefore must be able to conquer whatever in the universe is unlovely, or it is not (as centuries of poetry, prose and song have said), I repeat, not the "greatest thing". And if it is not, we would do well to find something else that is greater and can conquer the seemingly limitless expressions of the unlovely.

No, love is it. It's what we've got. Except no substitutes. Radical, other-oriented love. It removes (in Tolle's words) our ego problem. It puts others at the center, so that our personal motives, our life goals and methods of getting there, our politics, our business ventures, our policies, our life-choices are all done with the well-being of others in mind, not just ourselves, not just our family, our denomination, our race, gender, class, profession, political party or even our nation.

Jesus was asked, "What is the greatest commandment?" The answer: "The greatest commandment is this: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and all your mind, and all your strength. And the second command is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. These two commandments sum up and are the foundation of all the [Hebrew] scriptures." (Matthew 22:38-40 )

The Apostle Paul reiterates this when he says: "For everything we know about God's Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself." (Galatians 5:14, The Message translation of the Bible)

In other words, God has spoken. And love is the height and summation of the message.
"My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn't know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can't know him if you don't love." (1 John 4:7-10, The Message)

"Now there abides forever faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love." (1 Corinthians 13:13)

"I still believe that all you need is love. But I don't think just saying it is going to do it."
John Lennon


Debbie said...

Very true Ruben. Being human we are not infallible, we get angry and hurt and hold grudges. We can hold onto our pain (pain body as Tolle refers to it) but the LOVE that lives in us reminds us that that is not the way we are to live and we must forgive those that hurt us and pray for our enemies. beautiful words but very difficult to do unless you are free of ego. Pride and ego corrupt human beings and most of the powerful people in the world are ego-driven and corrupt - politicans and world leaders, or someone like Donald Trump or Hugh Hefner (a judgmental statement but you know what I mean).

Thank you for this blog. It is probably one of the more positive things out there in cyberspace.

As always, love to you and Anita.

keep on teaching ... you are a great influence on me.


Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

Now THIS is can do. I am not a theologian, I am not even educated in the area of philosophy, history or religions...and for many years I wondered if I was o.k....I was confused because I would hear people talk about Calvanism, this ism.....and I worried. But I can love...yep, I can do that! And that is what it boils down to because Jesus addressed anyone and everyone who would listen and DO. Ahhhh.....what freedom. And THANK YOU for talking about this. For this is the path of truth that awaits us all. I LOVE YOU! MOI

Anonymous said...

I think Jesus must have had a huge ego.
I think you need more than just to love.Its any easy get out,in my humble view.
Egos and faith seem to clash.One may need a huge ego to push through to spiritual lazer beam.
I enjoyed your post Prof. as always.
The Dude Abides.

Burlap Luxe said...

What strength behind you! and so well written. Amazing is the love Jesus gives us, sooooo! I say BRING IT ON JESUS!!!

Maybe John Lennon is right, all we need is love! Love conquers all.

You and Anita are amazing people, and enjoy all that you bring!


Anonymous said...

Hey Prof.
Your comment on T.S.Eliot is bang on.
I live in France but still have a cottage in England close to where T.S is laid to rest.I visit the church when i return in August [heat in Provence].They have readings of his poetry in the church every year and never a seat available:he is still revered.
His intellect indicates clearly that his faith [and ego]was more than just the written word.
It is so deep this THING much more than the three monolithic religions [Judaism,Islam and Chritianity]which are based on Aristotle's 'Unmoved Mover'and Plato's 'Form of The Good'notwithstanding Plotinus also.
Philosophy begins in wonder.And at the end,when philosophic thought has done its best;the wonder remains.
Peace be with you.
The Dude Abides.