The Truth About Love
The dark truth is that we may praise love (or, more weakly, “benevolence” or “compassion”), and few people would refuse to do so when love is rightly understood. We may wish to be loving—to be kind and helpful in our relations to those near us. But we do not trust love, and we think it could easily ruin our carefully guarded hold on life. We are frightened of the world we are in, and that makes us angry and hostile, and contempt makes it easier to harm or disregard the good of others. So the world boils with contempt. The more refined the human setting, the more fine-tuned the contempt.
You don’t have to know that God exists and that Jesus is for real to know that love is the good and the right for human beings. It is laughably false to say that if there is no God, everything is permitted, provided everything else remains as we now know it to be. It takes little intelligence to know that to live in love is the morally good and right way to live. But entering into and growing in love—actually being it and doing it in the context of real life—is quote another matter. Many misunderstandings of what love is has to be worked through before one can come to peace in it. Evil has a vested interest in confusing and distorting love.
Above all, one has to find by thought and experience that love can be trusted as a way of life. This can be learned by interaction with Jesus in all ordinary and extraordinary circumstances. He can bring it to pass that we rely on love; and that is why he boldly asserted that the only mark of being his student or apprentice in life was how his students love one another (John 13:35). And it is, again, why one of his best students could say, on the basis of a lifetime of experience: “Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7). Love is not God, but God is love. It is who he is, his very identity. And our world under a God like that is a place where it is safe to do and be what is good and what is right. Living in love as Jesus defines it by his words and deeds is the sure to know Christ in the modern world.
From Knowing Christ Today: Why We Can Trust Spiritual Knowledge. Copyright © 2009 by Dallas Willard. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.