I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)
Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. (1 John 4:7)
Love is the starting place of God. It should be our starting place too.
But what does love look like? How will we know it when we see it? How will we know it when we are living in it? How do we love?
In my experience, it is no good to simply say to one another, “God loves us.” That word God, and that other word love, mean so many different things to so many different people. As for the us, most of us do not really know who we are – individually or collectively. Who is this us that God loves?
When people tell me they do not believe in God, I ask them to tell me about the God they do not believe in. Most of the time, it does not take very many sentences before we are in agreement: I do not believe in the God they are describing either.
Sometimes, when people tell me they believe in God, I ask them about the God they believe in. Sometimes, it does not take very many sentences before I find we are in disagreement: I do not believe in the God they are describing.
Others will have the same feelings when I speak.
The one thing we seekers of God must do, if we believe there is a God and we believe there is such a thing as Truth, is that we must admit at all times and in all places that we could be wrong. It is important to disagree well, with open hearts and minds and lives. If I close my heart against you, and my mind against your thoughts and my ears against the sound of your voice, I am also deadening my heart and my mind and my ears to other inputs, including God, making it less likely that I will reach the heart of love or find the truth.
After all, if we could comprehend all that God is, we would be God ourselves. I have checked – I am definitely not that mighty. Most days I struggle to even understand my cats, or my own motivations!
What I am trying to do, though, is to explore these things. To journey deeper into them. Because I believe there is a God, because I believe God loves me – and all of us – and because I believe that love is how I will know God, and others, best.
In this blog over the next few months and years, I hope to journey in thought and word and deed and to record my journeying. I hope that no-one who reads my words mistakes them for any finished thing: they are the chatter of a child working things out as she goes along.
But one thing I am fairly sure of is that love is the starting point. God’s starting point, and ours. If we are to speak of truth at all, and truths about God and love in particular, we must do so in love. We need to live every day in such a way that our lives give content to those word from the beginning: God loves us.
Soren Kierkegaard put it well: “As I have lived, so have I believed.” I hope that anyone reading the book of my life will see – amid my many failings and mistakes – faith, hope and love.