Monday, February 16, 2009
The Opposite of Love
NOT ONLY is that the snazzy title of the highly-acclaimed breakout novel by my high school friend, Julie Buxbuam, but it also describes the concept of love most popular in our culture.
Maximus the Confessor writes, "Stop pleasing yourself and you will not hate your brother; stop loving yourself and you will love God."*
These words are obviously scandalous.
Most find it offensive to be told to not love themselves. Some say that Christianity promotes low-self esteem and self-loathing. So, in its place the world offers all kinds of pampering and pep-talks. Christians look to a God whose love is infinitely more genuine and fulfilling than any self-esteem we could concoct on our own.
I have learned bitterly, time again, that purely human efforts to indulge and console myself leave me hollow.
These days we are remembering a man whose whole life was about serving others and forgetting himself. I know few people who were more joyful or understood true love as well as he did.
*Fourth Century on Love, No. 37