Friday, November 2, 2012

The Only Unconditional Love

This quote from Henri Nouwen resonates with my soul:

"The spiritual life starts at the place where you can hear God's voice. Where somehow you can claim that long before your father, you mother, your brother, your sister, your school, your church touched you, loved you, and wounded you- long before that, you were held safe in an eternal embrace. You were seen with eyes of perfect love long before you entered into the dark valley of life...The spiritual life starts at the moment that you can go beyond all of the wounds and claim that there was a love that was perfect and unlimited, long before that perfect love became reflected in the imperfect and limited, conditional love of people. The spiritual life starts where you dare to claim the first love. - Love one another because I have first loved you. (I John 4:19)"

We look to others for love, and rightly so, but the only love others can give is imperfect love. People we love in our churches and families can hurt us, in part because they are at the mercy of their own brokenness, and in part because we really expect too much of them. We long for unconditional love, but others can only show us a dark mirror reflecting a greater love.

The only way to truly be grounded in Christian maturity is to be rooted in the one love beyond all human ability to love. It's the love of  Christ, who in his very person is the incarnate expression of the unconditional love of God. The more we get in touch with that first love, the more we begin to accept others in the body of Christ for their raspy personalities and rough edges.