Transformation into love is a shift from focus on me to an awareness of the greater we.
Egocentricity and its bondage of self is always the enemy of love.
Conversion points us toward fellow human beings, not simply toward God. Like the grain of wheat that must fall into the earth and die if it is to flourish, the person who is becoming love leaves behind the broken husk of the isolated self and embraces the new possibilities of life in the human community.
Self-interest suffocates life. Life implodes when self-interest is at the core. This is why the kingdom of self is based on death.
Ultimately, taking care of Number One takes care of no one.
For the only way to truly care for myself is to give myself in love for others. There I will find my truest and deepest fulfillment.
Love always involves not just saying yes to someone but also saying no to self. The life of love is a life of death to the kingdom of self.
Love is the acid test of Christian spirituality. If Christian conversion is authentic, we are in a process of becoming more loving.
1 John 4.16 says that “Anyone who lives in love lives in God, and God lives in him.”
If love connects us to life, it offers us a life that we no longer control. No longer can I choose whom I will love and whom I will ignore. No longer can I close my eyes to the things that hold others in bondage. If God’s heart has truly become mine, their bondage is mine. If one person suffers, all suffer.
I may not always consciously experience the suffering of others. I may be reasonably successful in living the life of autonomous existence. But my identity is based on an illusion unless it is grounded in human solidarity and community.
Transformation through love is not, therefore, as individualistic as we tend to assume. When love draws me from isolation into community, your life touches mine—your pain touches me, your afflictions touch me, your anxieties touch me. In short, you become part of me.
Love that comes from the heart of God connects us to all of God’s children.
It also connects us to his creation—our world. God’s heart of love moves me from the isolation of self-interest to a connection with life that cannot allow any ultimate divisions or categories. Love cannot exclude concern for social justice. Nor can it exclude ecological concern for the planet. Love cannot exclude concern for any human being, because all humans bear the image of God, whose heart is increasingly becoming our heart.
The point of being human is to learn to love.
There is nothing more important than learning love, because this is learning that counts for eternity.