to learn to live a life of love:
- Love is the basis of the universe and
our highest calling as human beings.
- Orthodox Christianity has 2000 years of living
in helping people learn to live a life of love.
God is love. And He gives Himself totally. He gives everything He is –
His entire divine nature – to His Son and His
Spirit, so that Father, Son, and Spirit exist eternally as persons
in a communion of total, self-giving love.
The love of the Trinity overflows to create an entire universe to love
– including other persons capable of total, self-giving love.
For us to be truly, fully human means for us to become like God (the
Greek word for this process is theosis)
– living a life of total, self-giving love.
We have all turned away from that total, self-giving love, preferring
self-love and self-gratification.
Turning away from love means turning away from the source of life,
which leads to death and decay.
God refused to abandon His creation to self-destruction, so He allowed
His Son to take on our human nature. Jesus Christ, the Son of God in
human form, taught and demonstrated a life of total, self-giving love.
Christ experienced all the effects of our refusal
- rejection by those He loved
- false accusation
- an unjust trial
- abandonment by His friends
- humiliation by His enemies
- the agony of an execution designed to
be as slow and excruciating as possible
- and finally, death itself.
Because Christ is Love incarnate, His death was a
victory of love. His rising from the dead transformed death. It
is no longer the final consequence of the rejection of love; He
made it the greatest manifestation of total, self-giving love, a
path into the eternal love of the Trinity.
To give us the power to live the life of love, Christ sent the Holy
Spirit to His followers.
We can choose to live the life of total, self-giving love with the help
of the Holy Spirit. But we are continually tempted to return to a life
of self-centered self-gratification. Because
true love must be freely chosen, God cannot compel us to love.
Our conversion from a life of self-love to a life
of self-giving love requires a total reorientation, a change of
mindset (in Greek, metanoia,
frequently translated as “repentance.”)
To live a life of total, self-giving love is a constant struggle (Greek
comes the word “ascetic”) to conquer self-indulgence in order to be
fully and truly human, in the likeness of God.
Orthodox Christianity has 2000 years of experience in this struggle:
From them we can learn to live a life of love.
- from Christ and His immediate followers,
- through the men and women who laid down their lives
witnesses (in Greek, martyrs)
for love in prison camps
under the Nazis and Soviets,
- to those who today lead lives of self-conquest in the
monasteries on Mount Athos, in Greece, in Eastern Europe
and the Holy Land, and even here in America.
hope is the Father,
my refuge is the Son,
my protection is
the Holy Spirit.
O Holy Trinity,
glory to You!"
to go learn more:
You might enjoy the essay
First Visit to an Orthodox Church:
12 Things I Wish I Had Known
by Frederica Mathewes-Green