Who Am I?

Four Hundred Texts on Love (Third Century) 5

Posted: January 10th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: St. Maximos the Confessor | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on Four Hundred Texts on Love (Third Century) 5

10.  If a man loves someone, he naturally makes every effort to be of service to that person. If, then, a man loves God, he naturally strives to conform to His will. But if he loves the flesh, he panders to the flesh.

I have several thoughts. First I’m reminded by the first sentence of Dallas Willard’s definition of love: To actively will the good of the beloved. (I’ve probably mangled it, but that’s how I remember it.) It’s on that point that modern Christian patriarchy (in both its hard and soft forms) utterly fails. Under that model, the man does not serve his wife and children. Ultimately, he expects them to serve him.

The next sentence flows straight from 1 John. Heck, it flows directly from Jesus.

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will be made free’?” Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed. (John 8:31-36)

Today, you’ll most often see the excerpt “the truth shall make you free,” but that’s not at all what Jesus is saying. (In fact, ‘truth’ in that sense can often crush us, not make us free. Who can stand the complete and unvarnished truth about themselves at once?) Jesus has previously described himself as the truth and we see in the last part he rephrases his earlier statement to make it clear. If we love Jesus, if we abide in him, then we will truly be his followers, we will come to know him, and he will make us free.

We can instead become enamored with our mortal condition — focusing on the pleasures that flow from it rather than the pain. And we are easily enslaved so that we pander to the passions rather than loving others or God — actions which are intertwined and cannot be separated.

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