The love thing

They were all at table with Jesus, and the impending crisis that would take his life loomed ahead of them inescapably. And then came those final, poignant words, “A new commandment I give to you; love one another. As I have loved you, you are to love one another.” This will become your unique signature in the world, the way people will sense your true identity, your essence. This will be your ultimate reason for being

How is it possible to love one another? Only through Christ it seems. The commandment to love one another goes back much further than Jesus himself. It is one of the themes that is cited again and again all through the Old Testament. And Jesus had certainly repeated those words again and again. What made it different was its ending on another AS I HAVE LOVED YOU”.

C.S. Lewis in one of his books examined all the Greek words for the concept of love and then concluded that they come down to one seminal distinction: the difference between what he calls “need love” and “gift love.”

Need love, Lewis says, is always born of emptiness. It is basically inquisitive to the core. A need lover sees in every beloved object or person a value that he or she covets to possess. Perhaps it is what some atheists see as purely a chemical reaction. Need love moves out greedily to grasp and to appropriate for itself. If one were to diagram it, need love is always circular, reaching out to the beloved to transfer value back to itself. In a popular image, need love sucks essence out of another and into itself. It does not take exceptional imagination, Lewis contends, to acknowledge that many times when we humans say to another, “I love you,” what we are really meaning is, “I need you, I want you. You have a value that I very much desire to make my own, no matter what the consequence may be to you.”

Lewis contends there is another reality that is utterly different. It is what he calls gift love. Instead of being born of emptiness or lack, this form of loving is born of fullness. The goal of gift love is to enrich and enhance the beloved rather than to extract value. Gift love is like an arc, not a circle. It moves out to bless and to increase rather to acquire or to diminish. Gift love is more like a bountiful, artesian well that continues to overflow than a vacuum or a black hole. Lewis concludes this contrast by saying that the uniqueness of the biblical vision of reality is that God’s love is gift love, not need love. And then he says, “We humans are made in the image of such everlasting and unconditional love.” Lewis’ depiction of gift love really is the foundation stone of the way St. Augustine describes the way Jesus loved. And the great good news for everyone of us to hear today is not only that we are loved by God in this marvellous way, but also that this is our deepest identity


4 thoughts on “The love thing

  1. “And the great good news for everyone of us to hear today is not only that we are loved by God in this marvellous way, but also that this is our deepest identity”


    This is what God said to me on 11th November, 1996—Remebrance Day, (a personal prophecy given to me by a prophet):

    “I love you my daughter, you are so special to Me. So special that you cannot fully comprehend at this time. But you will come to a greater understanding of this.

    “I love you so very much. Believe Me when I say this to you.

    “For My Word is truth and life, and My Word is everlasting.

    “From age to age and eternity to eternity, My Word shall stand.”

    It took many, many years after that for me to fully grasp and comprehend God’s love for me; no—-for all of us, but once I finally accepted, received and knew beyond a shadow of doubt God’s love for me/all His children, I was never the same broken, shame-filled person again.

    Yes, this is certainly my deepest identity, knowing that I am loved and accepted in the Beloved.

    My prayer is that you will all come to know just how much God really loves you too.


  2. Greek has various words for different sorts of love, such as for brotherly love and erotic love, but for all types of love I think the simple classification of ‘need’ and ‘gift’ is very relevant.

    ‘Gift’ love for each other is something we can try to achieve, but I wonder in what wa y most of us love God? As Christians, in what way do most love Jesus?


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