Charity (love) and being discipled/trained to love as Christ?
Devotional/Discussion Thought of the Day:
“Loving souls for God’s sake will make us love everyone: understanding, excusing, forgiving… We should have a love that can cover the multitude of failings contrived by human wretchedness. We have to have a wonderful charity, veritatem facientes in caritate, defending the truth, without hurting anyone.” (1)
As I hear people talk about the lack of need in their spiritual life for “church”, I grieve for them, and for the church. It is a loss for both, for we were not meant to have an “individual” relationship with God – and more than the Trinity has relationship apart from the entire Trinity. We are meant to abide in Christ as a family, a body, a group called out together. The people of God, since Adam and Eve were meant to be in community, as they walked through the Sinai, as the encamped around the tabernacle, as they rejoiced at the Temple – offering sacrifices and celebrating the putting off of their sin – together.
Yesterday I wrote about restoring the word “charity” as it helps us focus the nature of the love (which is a synonym of charity when its the highest form of love) and today’s comment from my devotions likewise uses the word. (Surprise!) As I noted then – charity is not about giving our cast-offs – our no-longer used, or giving from our abundance – it is just the opposite – its giving from our need – to care for those we are called to love. (not just those we decide to love – there is a big difference) The relationship between the people of God is supposed to amaze others – and extend out from the church… to bring the world into it.
The church then – as a body is the tool which God uses to demonstrate how to love in such a complete, even sacrificial way. For indeed, He demonstrates such charity/love towards us, as He graciously cleanses us, heals our souls (and yes sometimes our bodies) as He marks us as His children, as He gives us new life, (see Titus 3).
He does call us to then love others, even as He loves us… that’s charity – and the church is a great training ground. For some of us are harder to love, some are indeed great challenges. And there are a multitude of failings, which need to be corrected with discipline, even as we do it in love. This isn’t easy – and yet – as we learn to do it in safety, with the other brothers and sisters in Christ, we find ourselves showing such love/charity to those in our workplaces, our neighborhoods, our very lives. Let me put it bluntly – the church isn’t a place where every one is easy to love – because we are a bunch of hypocrites and sinners. But then – it is the ability to love even these, that God demonstrated in Christ, and desires us to show as well. God had St. John explain it this way…..
16 And we ourselves know and believe the love which God has for us. God is love, and those who live in love live in union with God and God lives in union with them. 17 Love is made perfect in us in order that we may have courage on the Judgment Day; and we will have it because our life in this world is the same as Christ’s. 18 There is no fear in love; perfect love drives out all fear. So then, love has not been made perfect in anyone who is afraid, because fear has to do with punishment. 19 We love because God first loved us. 20 If we say we love God, but hate others, we are liars. For we cannot love God, whom we have not seen, if we do not love others, whom we have seen. 21 The command that Christ has given us is this: whoever loves God must love others also. 1 John 4:16-21 (TEV)
The people at your church such as you struggle to love them? Rejoice – you have some wondrous opportunities to depend on God, and to see Him work through you ahead!
ANd remember – you can always cry out….
Lord Have Mercy!
Be assured that He does!
(1)Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 2099-2102). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.