|Rev. Archimandrite Nektarios Serfes - Spiritual Nourishment for the Soul - October 2004|
Why Is Love For Our God & One Another Getting Colder?
“Love the One so that all will love you”
Speak to almost anyone today and they will tell you that our love for one another is getting colder. Why should this be? As pious and Orthodox Christians we have been brought up to know that the first virtue is love for one another. How, then, is it possible that this love we should be demonstrating every day is getting colder?
Perhaps many of us need to re-examine our Christian lives, go back to basics, and realize once more that the most important virtue is to love one another (members of the Family of God) and our neighbor (who maybe doesn’t know Him at all), and to pray for one another, even for those that hate us. In the service of Great Compline in the Orthodox Church the priest offers this prayer: “For all those who love us and hate us.” The response is “Lord, have mercy.”
All of us desire and need the mercy of our Lord, and to receive this great mercy we need to have sincere, heartfelt love for Him, and one another, every day. Surely we cannot expect the great love of our Savior Jesus Christ to fill us to overflowing when we have let our hearts become cold towards one another? Our Gracious Lord God turns His Face away from us when we do not show love and kindness towards one another. He turns His face away, and we are left with a terrible sense of loneliness and suffering, for to be without God is the saddest time in our lives. Our hearts have become cold and we do not love as He has commanded us to do – “Love one another” (St John 13:34). Such love is a command of our Lord, and is the sign of our discipleship. So let us pray that the Holy Spirit of our God will warm our cold hearts and return us to obedience to Him.
Just because others have become cold in their hearts it does not mean that we should copy them, becoming unkind and not showing love towards each other. We need to sense the true peace of God within our soul, the peace that only comes when we are in union with Him in love. The divine love that He pours into of hearts radiates out to those around us, even to those who do not appear to love us in return. Many people seem today to live in the situation where they cannot count on the fingers of one hand the number of their friends, yet their perceived enemies are multitude! Strange, but not beyond the healing, loving power of our Lord!
Our purpose on this earth as Christians is to prepare ourselves for the Kingdom of our God, and in doing so we seek to walk in the light of Christ with our neighbor on the same path - not only seeking Paradise, but also becoming friends with our neighbor and our Lord God. He is the truest friend we can have, Almighty God, who loves the mankind He has created. The Greek word philanthropia means our Lord God is the friend of mankind. So our Gracious Lord loves us, our friends, neighbors, and even those who hate us! With both hands we can now pray and give Him glory and honor.
As we continue to worship and pray within our local parishes and in our homes, let us realize that when we walk outside of those churches and homes, we must face the world around us. We do not live insulated from contact with the world: our loving God has placed us in His world so that love can flow through us into the world. So do not let your heart become cold, but always show the same friendship our Lord God has for us towards every soul we meet. Finally, we can find true peace within our souls, as where there is love for God, and for one another, Christ dwells within us. What a blessing for us all! Now coldness towards one another has turned to love towards everyone!
Let us love one another, so that with one mind and heart we may confess: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, one in essence and undivided. Amen.
Humbly In The Love Of Christ Our Lord,
+Very Rev. Archimandrite Nektarios Serfes
Glory to God in the Highest, and on Earth Peace, Good Will Toward Men!
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(c) Reverend Archimandrite Nektarios Serfes