Saturday, November 20, 2010

Higher Love

I wondered recently how God's love differs from the love we experience as mere mortals. Surely His love has an intensity we cannot even imagine. A love so great "that He gave His only begotten Son.." and delivered him up to be scourged for the sins of all mankind - and not just this earth - all mankind everywhere. According to the Pearl of Great Price, the size of  "everywhere" means that if you numbered the grains of sand in millions of earths like this it would only be a beginning to the creations of God. Countless trillions times trillions of worlds, and I may be far off the mark in my estimation. Bottom line - we cannot even comprehend that kind of "everywhere" right now. Its too huge. And so is the scope of the Atonement. Its too huge to imagine.

Love is so important that the first two (and greatest) commandments have to do with love. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and the second is like unto it; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." I think that shows where God ranks love in the scheme of things. I think it also shows how deep God's love really is. He asks us to love Him with all our 'heart, mind and soul', so that must mean He also loves us with all His 'heart, mind and soul'. I don't think we can comprehend how strong that love is. And it is far beyond the romantic love so much of humanity is consumed in pursuing, and on which we sometimes waste and corrupt our lives. This is a "Higher Love" - something different and far more transcendant and pure. An Eternal kind of love.

Elder Uchtdorf gave a talk on love recently, and I'd like to quote part of his address:
Because love is the great commandment, it ought to be at the center of all and everything we do in our own family, in our Church callings, and in our livelihood. Love is the healing balm that repairs rifts in personal and family relationships. It is the bond that unites families, communities, and nations. Love is the power that initiates friendship, tolerance, civility, and respect. It is the source that overcomes divisiveness and hate. Love is the fire that warms our lives with unparalleled joy and divine hope. Love should be our walk and our talk

Since “God is love,” the closer we approach Him, the more profoundly we experience love....However, seeking God with all our hearts implies much more than simply offering a prayer or pronouncing a few words inviting God into our lives. “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments.” We can make a great production of saying that we know God. We can proclaim publicly that we love Him. Nevertheless, if we don’t obey Him, all is in vain, for “he that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”

We increase our love for our Heavenly Father and demonstrate that love by aligning our thoughts and actions with God’s word. His pure love directs and encourages us to become more pure and holy. It inspires us to walk in righteousness—not out of fear or obligation but out of an earnest desire to become even more like Him because we love Him. By doing so, we can become “born again … [and] cleansed by blood, even the blood of [the] Only Begotten; that [we] might be sanctified from all sin, and enjoy the words of eternal life in this world, and eternal life in the world to come, even immortal glory.”

Heavenly Father’s love for His children is the core message of the plan of happiness, which plan is made active through the Atonement of Jesus Christ—the greatest expression of love the world has ever known.

How clearly the Savior spoke when He said that every other commandment hangs upon the principle of love. If we do not neglect the great laws—if we truly learn to love our Heavenly Father and our fellowman with all our heart, soul, and mind—all else will fall into place. Love is the guiding light that illuminates the disciple’s path and fills our daily walk with life, meaning, and wonder. Love is the measure of our faith, the inspiration for our obedience, and the true altitude of our discipleship. Love is the way of the disciple.

A few important points he made that struck me -

First, we cannot separate God and love. To experience Higher Love, we must draw closer to God. I have a problem with this sometimes. I think at times I'm reluctant to get close to God. Maybe its because of my own feelings of inadequacy or unworthiness, but there are times when I hold back rather than fully embrace.

Second, obedience is a measure of our love for God. When we truly love Him then we will be motivated to obey His commandments out of LOVE. This is in stark contrast to obedience out of fear or obligation or social circumstance. It gives us a yardstick by which to measure the maturity of our love. I'm afraid I have a long way to go in this regard.

Last is the thought that everything else falls into place when we get this first - and most important - principle right. Maybe I focus too much on the 'peripheral' things, and not what's really at the core of it all. Am I letting myself get distracted by things that really don't matter a lot in the long run? I think many times I do.

So I have a lot to think about here. A lot to pray about. Perhaps this is a time to get back to basics and focus on what matters most. Love.

1 comment:

Elliot said...

I was just thinking about how incomprehensible God's love is the other day.

It's useful to ponder Heavenly Father's emotions sometimes. What does love feel like to God? To BE love... what does that feel like?