Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Philanthropy & Humiliation!

Luke 16.19-31 & 1 John 4.16b-21

It is a frightful thing to say, but … there is indeed a love which is mere philanthropy, a sympathetic and benevolent concern and assistance which we can exercise with zeal and devotion without taking even a single step away from the safe stronghold of being without our fellow-man, but in a deeper withdrawal into our shell. There is a form of love - mere charity (the mere crumbs which were falling from the rich man’s table)* - in which we do not love at all; in which we do not see or have in mind the other man to whom it is directed; in which we do not and will not notice his weal or woe; in which we merely imagine him as the object of the love which we have to exercise, and in this way master and use him. Our only desire is to practise and unfold our own love, to demonstrate it to him and to others and to God and above all to ourselves, to find ourselves self-expression in this sublime form.

There is thus a form of love in which, however sacrificially it is practised, the other is not seized by a human hand but by a cold instrument, or even by a paw with sheathed talons, and therefore genuinely isolated and frozen and estranged and oppressed and humiliated, so that he feels that he is trampled under the feet of the one who is supposed to love him, and cannot react with gratitude. The great tragedy is that it is perhaps in the sphere of the neighbourly love established and shaped by Christianity, in Christian families and houses and societies and institutions, that we seem to have more frequent and shattering examples of this than in that of the worldly love, courtesy, affability and fellowship which are so much more shallow and discriminating, and therefore so much the less exacting. - Barth, K., Bromiley, G. W., & Torrance, T. F. (2004). Church dogmatics, Volume IV : The doctrine of reconciliation, Part 2. (p. 440). Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark.

Doing all things in love begins with the realization that we owe everything to Jesus Christ, His Person & Work (the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected with us). God demonstrates God’s love in that Christ died for us; out of God’s great love God made us alive in Christ; and in that love we live, by it we conquer, and from it nothing shall separate us. “The love of Christ controls us” (2 Cor. 15.14). Indeed, our love merely reflects the love God first “poured into our hearts”. This love is directed toward Christ and toward others, whom we love for Christ’s sake!

Enjoy, ron

PS. I included the Luke 16 quote (parenthetical*) in Barth’s comments above

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