“Whoever loves is born of God and knows God.” Unfortunately, many Christians think, “If I read the Bible, I’m born of God; or if I go to church, I know God; or if I obey the commandments, I know God.” Yet John says it’s simply about loving. Note that the inverse is true also. “Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.”
When you agree to live simply, you have time for spiritual and corporal works of mercy because you have renegotiated in your mind and heart your very understanding of time and its purposes. Time is not money, despite the common aphorism. Time is life itself!
The Bible moves us from sacred place (why the temple had to go) or sacred action (why the law had to be relativized) or mental belief systems (why Jesus had no prerequisites in this regard) to time itself as sacred time. “I am with you always, yes, to the very end of time” is the last verse of Matthew’s Gospel (28: 20).
We Christians are such a strange religion! We worship this naked, bleeding loser, crucified outside the walls of Jerusalem, but we always want to be winners, powerful, and on top ourselves… at least until we learn to love the little things and the so-called little people, and then we often see they are not little at all, but better images of the soul.
If you have never experienced human love, it will be very hard for you to access God as Love. If you have never let God love you, you will not know how to love humanly in the deepest way. Of course, grace can overcome both of these limitations.
Don’t believe your faith unless you’ve doubted it, unless you’ve woken up a few mornings in the middle of your life questioning, “I’m not sure I agree with this at all. I’d like to jump ship. Staying in this church, this relationship, this career, feels more problematic to me than leaving.”
We know God by loving God. And I think that it is actually more important to know that we love God than to know that God loves us; although the two movements are finally the same. At the end of our lives of faith, the sum total of all of our knowing about God is that God knows us—and God’s knowing is perfect receiving—like a mirror.
We all have to admit that our secret inner attitudes are often cruel, attacking, judgmental, and harsh. The ego seems to find its energy precisely by having something to oppose, fix, or change.
“We are already one. But we imagine that we are not. And what we have to recover is our original unity. What we have to be is what we are.” – Thomas Merton
God’s goal, it seems to me, is the same as in creation. It is the making of persons, not the making of a uniform mob, which means there is clear diversity and a kind of open-endedness in all of nature. In other words, heaven is precisely not uniformity.