(Love, The Divine Essence)
To continue with our motif of God as a Trinity, with the Father representing the paradoxical Singularity and the Son as paradox expressed in the Diversity of Creation. Then, The Holy Spirit becomes the essence of what binds it all together - The Nature of God in a sense, at least as close as humans can come to seeing God's Nature. This Spirit is the spark which can make paradox harmonious, yet, is a paradox itself. We experience that Spirit as LOVE. It should come as a surprise to no one that any theology should postulate a definition of God that sees Her as Love. Theologies have been doing that for years. The problem is that Love itself is as paradoxical, as diverse, and as unexplainable as God Himself, which would make perfect sense, if Love is the Essence of God.
Now love is different things to different people. Voltaire says it nicely:
Love has various lodgings; the same word does not always signify the same thing.
("Abuse of Words," PHILOSOPHICAL DICTIONARY, 1764)
The way we experience, express, and feel love is unique to the individual. While there is a general collective ideal about what we are talking about when we use the word love to express feeling, that ideal would be individualized or subjective in the way it was experienced. This same statement can be applied to God Herself, or, it could apply to the diversity of the world around us.
To compound the problem of understanding love, especially Divine Love, we have its paradoxical nature. Love can be a positive and constructive Force in ones life. But, love can also be destructive and negative, manifesting itself in possessiveness, obsessiveness, and overbearingness. So many of us are all too familiar with the expression "Smothered with love," which often results in negative consequences to love, and can actually destroy relationships. But on the other side of the coin, the negative aspect of love is a necessary element and can have positive results. Anyone who has dealt with children realizes that harshness and discipline are every bit as necessary of an element to love as kindness and gentleness. Of course, these negative elements need delicate balance.
Love fits our definition of paradox, because of itself it is a constant, which can be positive or negative in its manifestation.
Human beings comprehend love, like most things - in its duality. There is a healthy love which is the way most of us tend to see our own love and comprehend the definition of love. This is a balanced use of the positive and negative aspects of love - whereby, we do what is unselfishly best for the beloved. But there is also an unhealthy love, which is very often construed as evil. This is a human love based on selfishness and seeks to control, manipulate or own the so-called beloved. Love misused can lead to a pathological condition of jealousy, over-protectiveness, possessiveness, dominance, manipulation, and even physical abuse. To cite just an example: How many children have been beaten with the justification "I'm doing this for your own good," or, "this hurts me worse than it hurts you?"
While we may argue over definitions and whether such negative pathological activity is love or not, the reality becomes that the person committing the evil is truly motivated by love. There is no question that punishment must be a part of sound parental love, but it is the degree, and the way it is administered, which determines if it is healthy or unhealthy. Negative love can be a good thing, while positive love can sometimes lead to evil. It is only a balanced love that is healthy; and such love would be reflective of Divine love.
We have just touched upon the paradox of love here, at least as the paradox is experienced in the human perception. God being love itself, must play an important part in the human experience of love, therefore, theology and religion have an important part to play in applying love to human relationships --- at least if they are to remain healthy. But the human aspect of love needs a section unto itself, which will be covered in this text. The rest of this essay will try to confine itself to love in its Divine Origin, which at that level would be its perfectly balanced paradoxical state.
When we talk of love in the
No matter how we subjectively experience or express love, we might be able to agree that love is in fact "caring" about someone or something. That love acts in a beneficial manner toward what it loves. In human terms, this doesn't necessarily mean we will do the right thing by them; but in the Divine sense, it would mean just that. God knowing the intent, probabilities, and consequences of an individual act upon the whole, can weigh the necessary elements to balance Her love to perfection. In other words, God's Love could never selfishly motivate its intent.
No matter what one's faith, if we see the Godhead as Love: creation becomes the best possible state for all the created. God as the Force of Love Itself would have to be offering the best of Herself to all; which doesn't necessarily mean that we accept the offer, or, that we can understand it.
And while we may not be able to understand God as Love, anymore than we can understand God as God - we can experience God's Love. Such an experience becomes tangible when we view existence as the manifestation of God's love; just as, diversity is a manifestation of being Itself. If we begin to see God's soul or Spirit as love, defining such as the Essence of what makes us be, then we must conclude that God cares for every single thing which proceeds forth from Him. In a spiritual sense, Love becomes the singularity that would bind the four fundamental forces of reality. *
This view may not be as far-fetched as it sounds at first glance. If we look to human relationships, love is very often the trigger mechanism, which binds people together and brings forth human life. The, desire to share what we are, and share what we have, often comes from love. It is possible that such a mechanism is the reason the Creator created; and thus, the Singularity, in an effort to share Itself out of love, created. The power of Love would be the spark that ignited the big bang making all reality possible. Such may not be scientifically provable, but at least it is on the fringes of science, and what a wonderful thought about our God!
While one may never be able to prove or disprove such a view, to see the Essence, Power, and Being of God as pure love can be a powerful motivator in changing the direction of human pursuits. Such an ideal shifts the sense of selfishness that is ever present in our individualistic society where reward and punishment drive the concept of God. A God of Love, instead of one as judge, does nothing to threaten our individuality, but shifts the emphasis of that individuality to one where we wish to share and contribute - not for a selfish goal of reward, but in the unselfishness of love. Such a concept shifts the emphasis of worship of God, to the love of God - a concept, which puts more emphasis on what we do than what we say. While Paul is greatly responsible for the "faith" priority of our present Christian structure, he realized that love was much greater than faith despite many theologies not noticing this.
I may speak in tongues of men or angels, but if I am without love, I am a sounding gong or a clanging symbol. I may have the gift of prophecy, and know every hidden truth; I may have FAITH strong enough to move mountains; but, IF I HAVE NO LOVE, I HAVE NOTHING!
I may dole out all I possess, and give my body over to be burnt, but if I have no love, I am none the better.
LOVE IS PATIENT, LOVE IS KIND AND ENVIES NO ONE, LOVE IS NEVER BOASTFUL, NOR CONCEITED, NOR RUDE, NEVER SELFISH, NOT QUICK TO TAKE OFFENSE. Love keeps no scores of wrongs; does not gloat over other men's sins, but delights in the truth. There is nothing that love cannot face; there is no limit to its faith, its hope, and its endurance. Love will never come to an end. Are there prophets? Their work will be over. Are there tongues of ecstasy? They will cease. Is there knowledge? It will vanish away; for our knowledge and our prophecy alike ARE PARTIAL, and partial vanishes when wholeness comes. When I was a child, my speech, my outlook, and my thoughts were all childish. When I grew up, I had finished with childish things. Now we see only puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we shall see face to face. My knowledge now is partial; then it will be whole, like God's knowledge of me. There are three things which last forever: faith, hope and love; BUT THE GREATEST OF THEM ALL IS LOVE. PUT LOVE FIRST...
(I Corinthians 13: 1-13)
The love to which Paul is referring is the Spirit of God. It is a pure love that sets no conditions to its loving. God created out of love; continues to give in love, and expects nothing in return - for what could anyone or anything offer God? But it is the Essence of that Spirit of God that is within us, allowing us to share in the Divine Nature, that gives us the potential to manifest Her love in the reality of the here and now.
This is why Jesus told us that what we do to each other is
essentially what we do to God. The only way we can give true love to the Source
of Love is by showing that love unto something else. God's love is so pure it
needs nothing in return. But God's love is so generous that it can continue
through us, if only we allow it. In his Sermon on the Mount,
and in his discourse on final judgment (Matt 25:31-46), and throughout the Gospel
Now, as already stated, love in its human manifestation can be healthy or unhealthy. To determine whether it is in harmony with God's love, or not, we need to have an ethic by which we might judge its condition. One might say that healthy love serves to improve one's self, combined with, a benefit for another - or the whole. Love becomes unhealthy when it is self-serving and infringes on the integrity of another or the whole.
God's love could never be unhealthy because it could never be self-serving. It serves the whole because the Divine is part of the whole for nothing can exist outside of it. Another of the paradoxes here is that love at a Divine level serves itself by serving the whole - which is love in its perfection. This is why when we live our lives in such a way as to love the whole; we are in fact then serving God!
This loving of the whole does not mean that we must love everything and anything just as it is. The loving of the whole means that we examine ourselves to find out if our actions are self serving, and if they are, are they in fact harmful to others? It is not necessarily wrong to act out of selfishness, unless that selfishness brings harm or infringes on the rights of some part of the whole. The point really is that when we do things to benefit the whole, we always benefit the self. If something is good for creation, it is ultimately good for the creatures of that creation; of which we are a part.
To view the Trinity as the Singularity, the Diversity of Creation, and the Spirit of Love which drives it, is to see God in the most complete picture we could have of Her. In this portrait, the Godhead makes sense; yet, it still remains a mystery. In this Trinity we can protect and defend our individuality, yet we must respect the diversity and complexity of the whole - for both become the one God. Such a view can shift the emphasis from a profession of faith to the personal responsibility of coming to know God in the form of love, and then, allowing such love to reveal itself through us. It aids us in fighting selfishness, bigotry and intolerance - for all is of God even when it is misused, for God's love knows no boundaries:
You have learned that they were told, "Love your neighbor, hate your enemy." But what I tell you is this: Love your enemies and pray for your persecutors; only so you can be children of your heavenly Father, who makes his sun rise on the good and bad alike, and sends his rain on the honest and dishonest. If you love only those who love you, what reward can you expect? Surely, the tax gathers do as much as that. And if you greet only your brothers, what is there extraordinary about that? Even the heathens do as much. There must be no limit to your goodness, AS YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER'S GOODNESS KNOWS NO BOUNDS.
(Matthew 5: 43-48*)
If we view the Trinity in Its Oneness, Its Diversity, united and harmonized by Its Love, we would have the basis for a positive theology that would make sense of the Image of God in which man was made. It would not be our physical form that assigns us such a dignity as "God's Image", rather, it would be our potential to unite in our diversity because of the potential to love that is within us all. In the recognition of the Trinity as described above, we can freely choose to extend ourselves to others, just as God freely chooses to extend Himself to all the creation. And, we could also avoid the mistake of trying to humanize God.
If God is Love, then it is our ability to love that makes us in Her Image. If the Spirit of Love is what makes being "be," then it is that same spirit which gives us life. The "Word becomes flesh" every time we express the love that God has for us unto someone or something else. That which moved the Creator to create is what can move man to his highest achievements. Just as the sharing of human knowledge has helped the evolution of the human intellect, the sharing of love is what will take us down the road of spiritual and emotional evolution.
A healthy love is to know the reality of God! The American Novelist Christopher Morley said it nicely, "Men talk of finding God, but no wonder it is difficult; He is hidden in the darkest hiding place, your heart - You yourself are part of Him."
For theology to pursue the Love that the Divine is - is, to replace its need for God's judgment and wrath. Love delivers us from seeking heaven, or fearing hell, because in love, we can find heaven and then there can be no hell. Such is not an easy task, and this is why it is imperative that a responsible theology will always put love first in its quest for the Divine, for to lead men to the love within themselves is to lead them to God.
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