I Want To Love, But Not In The Way I Should
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I Want To Love, But Not In The Way I Should

The difficult truth of a Christian's call to love.

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I Want To Love, But Not In The Way I Should
Geeks Under Grace

Recently, I read the first half of Søren Kierkegaard’s Works of Love. To anyone who hasn’t read this: READ IT. See what he says for yourself, and decide for yourself if he makes a convincing argument. In it, Kierkegaard breaks down what Christian love means and how it should be practiced, creating his idea from Matthew 22:39’s focus on “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

This book was exactly what I needed to read — it’s also exactly what I didn’t want to read.

The love that Kierkegaard describes is eternal, infinite and all-encompassing. Our neighbor is every single person we meet in life, without exception. To love our neighbor means to help them to love God. Our love for them is not dependent on what they can do for us or how good of a person they are; our love for them is dependent on the fact that God loves them just as much as He loves us, and we are called to follow that example. We must first love God; only from that we can properly love ourselves and properly love our neighbor.

This is exactly what I needed to read. Every Christian is comforted by this type of love, something that is so unending and rooted in God’s love. Every person loves knowing that they are loved.

But this is only a selfish understanding of this love.

The purpose of Kierkegaard’s discussion on love is not for us to consider how love is given to us — it is to change how we give love to others. This is not about making sure everyone in my life knows how to properly love me. This is not about using this as a handbook to point out to everyone else how they are failing to love.

This is to show me how I should be loving others — and that is exactly what I didn’t want to read.

Of course, as a Christian I know I’m supposed to love my neighbor. Of course I know neighbor does not mean just certain individuals. However, there’s just something about the way Kierkegaard has worded it that really hits me with the weight of that love. Two particular passages come to mind:

“If your friend complains that, in his opinion, you did for a neighbor what he thought you would do only for him, be at rest, it is your friend who makes the mistake.”

“Therefore he who in truth loves his neighbor loves also his enemy…One’s neighbor is the absolutely unrecognizable distinction between man and man; it is eternal equality before God — enemies, too, have this equality.”

This Christian love makes no distinction between friend and enemy. Of course, classic Sunday school teachings already say this, but Kierkegaard has stated it in a more powerful way. To truly love one’s neighbor as one’s self means demonstrating love to friend and enemy in the same way. It means that, to my friend’s perspective, I am not showing them more love than I do my worst enemy.

It means loving those that popular opinion would say are not deserving of love. It means that I love, not only my family and my friends, but also the murderer in jail or the sexual predator that roams life free.

These aspects of the Christian love that Kierkegaard has proposed have weighed heavily on me ever since reading it. It hurts me to think of love for my friends and family having to look the same as for my enemy; it brings out the greatest feelings of disgust and anger in thinking I should love the worst type of criminals, personalities, dictators as much as I love my friends and family. How will those I care about realize that they are special to me and that they aren’t like everyone else?

I think that question is the entire issue — the assumption that “those I care about” is only a certain amount of people.

The Christian love necessitates me caring about all. This type of love is not popular not in the slightest. It’s a type of love that requires me to simultaneously love my family and love anybody who would do them harm; it requires me to say I love and care for both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton; it requires me to say I love and care for the multiple mass shooters as well as those who serve in the military; it requires me to love the greatest gentleman that can be imagined, as well as Harvey Weinstein. To love them all is to help them love God, with the ultimate goal of them loving Him as well.

I’ve already had problems with some of those close to me who disagree with this. I’ve had some of those closest to me complain that I am not demonstrating how they are any different than just a simple acquaintance I may have. I’m sure I’ve complained that someone hasn’t demonstrated to me how I’m any different than any other friend. I imagine others will have problems with this after seeing this article. The thing is, it’s not supposed to be different in regards to Christian love — and that is incredibly difficult to be comfortable with.

Maybe the fact that it’s so uncomfortable is all the more reason why I should be doing it.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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