“Love one another, as I have loved you”
A recent post at “I Love Mormons” has me thinking about the love of God and my love for other humans. Jessica is reading a book by Beth Moore, Breaking Free: Making Liberty in Christ a Reality in Life. It sounds like it could be a very interesting read. In her book, Moore talks about being satisfied with Christ. I’m not sure what that term means, and Mormons definitely don’t use it frequently. I’ll have to ponder on the subject more.
In my current theological vocabulary, the closest thing to what Jessica is talking about is simply love for and loyalty to Christ. Perhaps I’ll post in the near future on Pres. Hinckley’s statements in the broader context of his other teachings on Christ, love, and satisfaction. For now I will share my thoughts on Christlike love. I submit that the extent of our satisfaction with Christ is directly proportional to our love for Him, and the extent of our love for Him is reflected in how we love others.
What do the scriptures teach about Christlike love? Faithoffathers gave an EXCELLENT example from the Book of Mormon regarding Lehi’s vision of the tree of life, the joy the fruit brings, and the metaphor to the love of Christ (see 1 Nephi chs. 8-15 or so). Also, Seth mentioned Matt. 25:40, indicating that Christlike love for others is how we learn to love the Savior. Good food for thought, FOF and Seth!
Next, let’s look a little more closely at the New Testament. Jesus was asked which was the great commandment in the law. He replied,
“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” (Matt 22:36-40, KJV).
God first, neighbor second. OK, but that was the Mosaic standard. Jesus went a little further at the Last Supper.
“This is my commandment, that ye love one another as I have loved you…A new commandment give I unto you, that ye love one another as I have loved you.” (see John 15, KJV)
No love could surpass Jesus’ perfect, infinite love for us. Yet that is exactly how we are commanded to love each other. Thus, if we love as Jesus intends, we will love Him just as much as we love our neighbor. This type of love between mortals is especially important in family life. Paul taught,
“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church, and gave himself for it.” (Eph. 5:25, KJV)
Our love for spouses should be AS STRONG, AS DEEP, AS TRUE as Jesus’ love for us. Again, no love could be greater than Jesus’ love. We cannot love more than Jesus loves, yet we are commanded to love our spouses as Jesus loves us and as He loves the Church. Again, this is essentially a command to love our family as much as we love Christ, since our love for Christ or family could never equal or surpass Christ’s love for us. This type of love is what I personally believe Pres. Hinckley was describing when he said:
“The sweetest feelings of life, the most generous and satisfying impulses of the human heart, find expression in a marriage…God is the designer of the family. He intended that the greatest of happiness, the most satisfying aspects of life, the deepest joys should come in our associations together and our concerns one for another as fathers and mothers and children.” (“What God Hath Joined Together,” Gordon B. Hinkcley, Ensign, May 1991, p. 71)
Nowhere does Pres. Hinckley say that love within a family should surpass our love for Christ. To contextualize a bit, Pres. Hinkcley regularly taught that priorities in life are God first, then family, then church service, then employment. Thus, our relationship with God must be our first priority, but if we do not love our families with full Christlike love as Jesus commanded, then our relationship with God is by definition not perfect. They go hand in hand. Our love for others, and particularly our family, is a partial measure of our love for God!
But there’s another layer still – true Christlike love begets unity. Christ prayed that His disciples would be one as He and the Father are one. Thus, we are all to become one with each other and with Christ! Jesus prayed to the Father,
“That they all may be one, as thou, Father art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us…” (John 17:21, KJV).
To achieve this type of unity, we must love Jesus and have Christlike love for all individuals, particularly our families. I submit, and I think LDS doctrine backs me up on this, that we can never be truly one with Christ unless we are truly one with our families. We cannot be truly one with our families unless we love them with a pure Christlike love. And remember, Christ commanded that our love for spouse be as strong as Jesus’s love for us! Thus, our love for others becomes a window to Christ’s love, for we are truly emulating Him and obeying Him when we love others purely. ONLY by loving others as He loves us can we begin to comprehend His love for us. Quoting Schӧnberg’s famous musical “Les Miserables,” “To love another person is to see the face of God!” What could be more satisfying than that?