By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
One can hear a multitude of answers to a question on what does it mean to be an orthodox christian. Certainly, to be one you have to be baptized in the Orthodox Church, you have to participate in Her life conscientiously and actively, you have to take part in Her mysteries, you have to keep – in accordance with your strength – all the rules of the Universal and your own local church. However, all of this may not be enough. If we recall the words of the holy apostle Paul, we’ll remember that, even giving ourselves up for burning for the sake of God, we shall obtain nothing unless we have love.
Christianity is the faith of Love. The Lord provoked the pharisees and lawyers to much anger by preaching about love not only for one’s neighbor, but also for one’s enemy.
But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.
In our time, so much is said about love that a human life possibly will not be enough to make sense of all that is said and written. Yet, if we were to consider the Lord’s words about love for our enemies, we will have to admit of necessity that the majority of statements and opinions do not have the slightest relation to love. Most likely, these will be about attraction, about people’s egocentric undertakings in the search for elusive happiness.
What is true love? It may, or shall we better say it should, be seen on the cross of the Lord. God’s love for the people that are fallen, sinful, and in need of the Saviour, led the Son of God to the cross. The Lord voluntarily accepted the fearful, shameful death not only for the sake of the small group of people, who stood near His cross, but for the sake of all. Speaking in short, the Lord didn’t do that which was pleasant, or convenient to Him, but that which was necessary for all of us. The Lord’s suffering on the cross is His love toward us.
I hope that the above said will help us think deeper about the meaning of love. To love is to sacrifice one’s own self for the sake of another. It is for this very reason that the Lord says that there is no greater love, than to lay down’s one’s life (one’s soul) for one’s friends. Oh, if only those entering marriage thought of love specifically in this way! The number of divorces would be infinately smaller. Also, not only the number of divorces, but the count of disappointments in the relationships of people not tied by filial bonds would be significantly lower if they thought of love as sacrifice rather than benefit.
The holy apostle Paul teaches that it is more blessed to give than to receive. In other words, we can say that it is better to love than to be loved.
We have no doubt that God loves us. Let us also love God and our neighbor, that way we shall keep all the commandments unto the glory of God.