~ The Slavery of Love ~
A few days ago, early in the morning, my eyes were caressing the setting crescent moon. The very same moon that inspired so many hearts over so many thousands of years made me marvel at how it is a physical presence of God's will. The grand mountains, vast oceans, zillions of incredible life forms, dew drops on flower petals, morning mist hiding still and silent lakes, all the will of God.
Such marvels are not confusing, but profoundly awesome. Yes, people study them scientifically. We measure, quantify, categorize, figure cause and effect dynamics, but ultimately, we must put our analytical instruments down and gaze at it all in silent reverence, knowing we are in the presence of mystery beyond our words, mathematics and physics.
Yet God's will and ways generates confusion in our minds. Over the centuries we debated theology, worship rituals, prayer formats, Scriptural meanings and matters of faith. Problems for us.
Love, however, ought to be the least problematic, if at all. Then Augustine writes something like, “Love God and do what you will.” So people debate what that means.
When we actually do that, love and do, we find ourselves in a very interesting situation. What we consider freedom shapes into slavery. When love is our master, we do what love wills. Love will have its way with us and we wouldn't have it any other way. And “God is love.”
In her poem, “Vivre d’Amour!”
(“Live from Love!”), Therese of Lisieux wrote
Au Ciel je dois vivre de jouissance.
…Mais exilee je veux dans la souffrance
(In Heaven I must live from rejoicing…
But exiled [on earth] in suffering
I want to live from Love.)
… Mourir d’Amour, c’est un bien doux martyre
… Divin Jesus, realise mon reve:
(To die from Love is a very sweet martyrdom
Divine Jesus, make my dream real:
To die from Love!)
The ultimate martyrdom or witness is considered physical death that is embraced for the faith. Until that comes, if it comes at all, is the daily martyrdom of love, by which we both live and die at the same time. Jesus’ pronouncement of no love being greater than one laying his life down for his friends doesn't necessarily mean physical death. We can lay our lives down many times in many ways. Jesus’ “new commandment,” to love as He loved us (infinitely greater than loving others as ourselves), involves total dedication, a self-emptying as He emptied Himself. It means rejecting all masters except that of Love. Christ assumed a slavery to humanity so we can voluntarily enter the slavery of Love.
In Jesus’ day, a slave who legally was given freedom could choose to stay in voluntary slavery to his master. He was then a bonded servant, and hence the term “bond servant of the Lord,” a prisoner of Love. The master's will became the bonded servant's will, lovingly carried out. The master's will may not have always been understood or perhaps the servant thought he had better ideas, but that will was trusted and embraced. And the master lavished love upon the bonded servant.
The Master's will is all-transcendent. The servant's will counts for nothing, unless it coincides with the Master's. Through the bond of love, the more the servant becomes like the Master, the more his will also follows the Master's. Master and servant grow into true friends who lay their lives down for each other.
In this holy relationship,
the word “Truth” grows into a transcendent Reality. We can say true things
and, so it follows, false things. But as we grow into the Truth as Christ
declared, “I am the Truth,” we speak less and less until we get down to
one Word. To speak this Word is to invoke the sacred name and person of
the Christ, in Whom all things exist and have life. There is no opposite
to this Truth. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was [is] God”
and God has no opposite. He just is. He is the “I Am.” During Jesus’ sham
trial, Pilate asked Him, “What is truth?” Many think Jesus didn't answer
him because He stood silently. But Jesus did answer Pilate in the best
way, as Truth gazing silently in Pilate’s presence. Typically people don't
see as Truth stands right in front of them.
Living in this Truth cannot be done through reason, study, “proofs” of existence or attempts at understanding. Living in His Truth is done only by living in Love. That kind of living can only be done in poverty of self, in humility, in our smallness and weakness and utter dependence believing Christ's words, “You can do nothing without me.”
“My heart is not proud, O Lord,
my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.
But I have stilled and quieted my soul;
like a weaned child with its mother,
like a weaned child is my soul within me” (Psalm 131:1-2, NIV).
In this spirit, living in the Word, the Truth, from Love, there is no need to ask yourself, “What would Jesus do?” No need to fret over “God's will and plan for my life.” No need to make resolutions like “I will give more time to God” which is a ridiculous statement anyway since He owns all in all.
God's love is demanding, consuming and redemptive. In the slavery of His love, we are shackled to Him. We must do His will. We learn to do His will as our love for Him and His love for us consumes the both of us, as Christ was consumed for our sins only to resurrect from their ashes with our hearts sealed in His.
To embrace and grow in the slavery of God's love is life and joy, for as long as He lives, which is forever. The alternative of freedom from God and His loving, perfect will is just unthinkable.
John S. Hilkevich, Ph.D.
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Weekly Reflections © April 26, 2003
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