The Law to Love is God’s Gift to Humans

Individualism does not necessarily mean that each person lives a solitary life, yet the Christian life is based in love, which implies living in relationship to others.  In order to love we need someone to love.  Individualism can cause us to forget that humans are relational beings – from the time of our conception in our mother’s womb, we are meant to be in relationship with others, interdependent with others, living in love with others.  “One Christian is no Christian,” says Tertullian (d. ca 220AD).  St. Basil the Great (d. 379AD) asked those Christians who wanted to live a solitary life, “whose feet will you wash?”   The implication being we can only imitate Christ by living in loving service to others.  The Christian life consists in learning to live in relationship to brother, sister, parent, neighbor, others, and even enemy.

“But a life passed in solitude is only concerned with the private service of individual needs.  This is openly opposed to the law of love, which the Apostle fulfilled, who sought not what was profitable to himself but to many that they might be saved.  Furthermore, a person living in solitary retirement will not readily discern his own defects, since he has no one to admonish and correct him with mildness and compassion…”   (Chryssavgis, John, The Way of the Fathers:  Exploring the Patristic Mind pg 43)

2 thoughts on “The Law to Love is God’s Gift to Humans

  1. Mary

    Of course, it’s unhealthy to feel that the only way to be a Christian is to escape from all those darned people, yet not everyone is meant to marry, have real friends, close “compassionate” family ,or be a monastic. What then?

    1. Fr. Ted

      We are each created to love in whatever circumstances we find ourselves, with whatever personality we are gifted. Some will do this in groups of many, some in solitary acts to individuals, some in random acts of kindness, some to a total stranger, or a neighbor, or even one’s enemies. Some will have a life long partner, and some precious few friends. We each can love someone. Dostoyevsky wrote a story in which in an entire lifetime one women’s only act which was even remotely kind was to give a hungry beggar an onion. Christ then attempted to pull her out of hell with that same onion.

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