From Loved to Lovable

The Song of Solomon has inspired many a godly person to poetically rejoice in the love of God for His people and His Church.   It is a song about love, even erotic love transformed by interpretation into the agape love which is of God’s nature.    In verse 1:16, we read:

Behold, you are beautiful, my beloved, truly lovely.

But beauty is not purely in the eye of the beholder, at least not as the Church understands it.  Rather beauty is bestowed, transferred,  by God on those whom He beholds.  The beauty becomes part of the beloved, bestowed by God on all He loves.  Each day of creation in Genesis 1, God the Creator sees the goodness and beauty of His creation.  But is it only in the seeing that it becomes good/beautiful – is it beautiful only because God is looking at it?   Or has God created each aspect of creation to be beautiful and He sees that beauty with which He imbued creation – the beauty which belongs to creation?

Perhaps the truth is that when the God who is love focues on anything, that thing is transformed into something lovely by the divine love focused upon it. It is quantum physics on the Divine level where the observer effects what is observed.   St. Augustine says about God’s own love for him:

“In loving me, You made me lovable.” (Ralph C. Wood, The Gospel According to Tolkien, pg. 132)

God’s love for us transforms us.  That is the nature of Divine love and of the Lord as Lover.  It is God’s love for us that makes us lovable, it is not that we are so lovable that God cannot but help to love us.  God loves us by His own choice not in reaction to us.  As St. Paul reminds us in Romans 5:6 :

While we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.  Why, one will hardly die for a righteous man—though perhaps for a good man one will dare even to die.  But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” 

Imagine if we in the Church loved in such a way to make others lovable.  Imagine if Christian husbands and wives loved each other so that the other person was made lovable by each others love!  Unlike Schrodinger experimenting with his Cat , our goal is not to objectively observe the other but to make the other both alive and lovely by loving them.

Christ says we are to love others as He loves us.  In John 13:34-35, we are taught byour Lord Jesus:

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

As St. John the Theologian teaches us:

“Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God, and he who loves is born of God and knows God.  He who does not love does not know God; for God is love.  In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.  In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins.  Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No man has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.  By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his own Spirit.”   (1 John 4:7-13)

5 thoughts on “From Loved to Lovable

  1. Pingback: Orthodox Collective

  2. Johnnie Z. Durham

    I don’t like the fact that with Christianity there is a hell aspect. If the great being of love and all that has to punish you for all eternity then he isn’t that good of a god, he is just a evil god that LOVEs to see his creations in pain. A long with not showing himself in any way to give people a reason to believe him. Idk. From the history I read about the bible all I see is how it was used as a weapon for armies.

  3. Chairomai

    ‘Imagine if we in the Church loved in such a way to make others lovable. Imagine if Christian husbands and wives loved each other so that the other person was made lovable by each others love!’
    Thank you, Father, for such a wonderful website and posts. I’ve found much help and inspiration here. I really liked this post, but was not sure about one thing, and so hope you might be able to offer some clarification. Could I ask what exactly the above sentences (that I’ve quoted) mean, please? I would like to try to love others in that way – my Church community, my family, my friends, those around me – but I’m not quite sure how loving someone makes them lovable. I’m probably missing the obvious here, so I’m sorry for that.

    1. Fr. Ted

      I don’t think you’ve missed the obvious, but rather have been stopped by something that is meant to make us think. If everything is obvious we pass right by without thinking about things. But sometimes we hear, read or see something that we have to stop and consider.

      If everyone is lovely and lovable, then loving them is the natural response, perhaps the only response we can have for them. It would in fact be a predetermined response and would not be love. Love in our understanding is a choice, not a reaction to someone, but a chosen act toward them.

      Love transforms the lover as well as the beloved – at least in each others eyes. When we love, we choose to make the other lovely in our eyes.

      But now, imagine that we love so well someone who seems unlovable, who is not lovely, that they are transformed by our love, and that which is lovely in them (the image of God for example) begins to become visible to others. In this scenario, our love is not simply our response to another’s lovliness, but actually helps transfigure and transform them so that whatever beauty God has implanted in them begins to become visible,not just to us alone, but to everyone.

      That is transfiguring and transforming love. I think it is the way Christ loves us, and He commands us to love others as He loves us

      John 13:34 – A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

      1. Chairomai

        Thank you so much, Father, for such a considered and deep reply to my question. I understand better what you mean now, and what you say is such a beautiful thing that I hope to continue to work through understanding and engaging with it in my prayers and in my behaviour towards others. You’ve helped me understand better too in your reply not only how we should love others but what it means for God to love us. Thank you again.

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