Love, as taught by Jesus

In overflowing wrath for a moment, I hid my face from you, but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you, says the Lord, your Redeemer. -Isaiah 54:8 

Dear members and friends,

Love is the word and expression that is used very commonly by all people. It is a simple word that contains a complex expression of human feeling toward other people or things. An English dictionary gives the word love two definitions: 1. An intense feeling of deep affection; 2. A great interest and pleasure in something. However, when we look at how this word is being used, we cannot help but notice that people use the word “love” in a much broader way than how the dictionary defines it. Often, “I love you” includes either “I like you,” “I am fond of you,” “I care about you,” “I think about you,” “I feel connected to you,” “You are important to me,” or “You pleases me,” or all of them! In a way, this is caused by the difficulty in knowing the meaning and value of our own feelings. One universally-accepted idea is that the feeling expressed by love is essentially positive. 

The Bible takes the word love very seriously. According to the Bible, love is essentially the expression for our relationship with God and with each other. However, the fundamental challenge in understanding what it means to love as a Christian comes from the truth that love as taught by Jesus requires in-depth inner cultivation to acknowledge and understand. This becomes clear in his teachings regarding the necessity of rebirth (or to be born again) by spirit and fire. Jesus teaches us the unavoidable necessity of rising above the innate predicament of our being. Regarding this, Swedenborg states, “From birth, all we love is ourselves and the world, because this is all that comes into our view.” (Divine Love and Wisdom #419) What is clear from both the Bible and Swedenborg’s clarification is that the love taught by Jesus might not be the same feeling that humans experience in their relationship with others. Rather, love is more related to their willingness to care for the wellbeing of others for the sake of others. In other words, the love taught by Jesus may cause pain and challenge instead of spontaneous pleasure and delight.

My brothers and sisters in God, let us take a moment of reflection on what Jesus teaches us about love, and thus we may truly be instruments of love in this season of love. 

Blessings, Rev. Junchol Lee