LOVE IS A SPIRITUAL POWER
Let's begin in prayer: Father, Mother, God;
Bless us with Love;
That we may Love as you Love!
That we may show patience, tolerance,
Kindness, caring and love to all!
Give me knowledge;
That I may be one with my Universe and Mother Earth!
Grant compassion unto us;
That we may help all fellow souls in need!
Bless us with your Love. Amen.
There is no opposite of God. Our lives are shaped by the way we make use of our love faculty or ability, along with all our other spiritual powers. This month we will concentrate on improving our understanding and expression of the spiritual power called love. We will learn that love is not just an emotional state we fall "in" and "out of." We will learn to love ourselves more and to love all creation more.
GOD IS LOVE & WE ARE THE EXPRESSION OF GOD
Genesis 1:26-27 "Then God said, "Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; ..." So God created humankind in his image, ..."a
1 John 4:8 "...God is love."b
"Love," more than any of our spiritual powers, is thought of as something that comes to us from other people. We think of "love" as something that other people give to us rather than something we basically are. We think of "love" as something we can feel when we are "in love" with someone rather than as a part of the Cosmic Process of which each of us is an active expression. So often, then, we are "looking for love in all the wrong places." At the level of God, Love is the idea of universal unity.
In expression, love is the power that binds the universe and everything in it in divine harmony. It is the spiritual glue. As it binds, it aligns all things in harmony allowing the free flow of spirit in and through them. In the physical it equalizes the circulation systems in our body. In the mental, it harmonizes the thoughts of the mind.
LOVE: LET'S START WITH OURSELVES
Life for most people is a long quest for love, which becomes a quest for love objects or people to give us "love." People longingly ache and cry out inwardly, "Won't somebody please love me?" And yet, truthfully, love is within us and as close as our breathing all the time. Jesus teaches us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, indicating that psychologically we can't really love others unless we love ourselves.
So when we look at love on a personal basis - we realize that we connect our soul forces or energy on that which we center our love. Any one thing we love in this physical world we become attached to. So even though we get to have all things, we need to detach from the physical world.
The love that flows through us from God is meant to be extended to include all things. You can't confine love just to your family, tribe, or friends. All people are children of God and are the beloved. So, to the extent that we separate ourselves into families, cliques, and religious factions we put away God's love. As we change our energy to support the Christ ideal, our love goes through a transformation which broadens, strengthens, and deepens it.
DEVELOPMENT OF HEALTHY LOVE FOR OURSELVES
So how do we learn to love ourselves, so that we CAN love others? Ask yourself these questions:
How can I love myself in a healthy way by taking or spending quality, relaxed time with myself? Maybe you need to schedule an appointment in your calendar to do this - just pencil yourself in. Then spend some time planning how you are going to spend quality, relaxed time with yourself.
Then ask yourself this Second question: How can I love myself in a healthy way by changing my eating, drinking, smoking, exercising and TV-watching habits, so I can feel better about myself and have a more positive self-image? Let's see a show of hands - How many of you have such perfect eating habits that there is no room for improvement? How about exercising - Who out there has such perfect exercising habits that there is no room for improvement? So, look at how you can love yourself in a healthy way by changing your eating, drinking, smoking, exercising and TV-watching habits. Then you can feel better about yourself and have a more positive self-image.
Then ask yourself this last question: What do I need to do in order to be more positive, supportive, forgiving, proud, hopeful, and trusting toward myself? (Less perfectionist, berating, driving.) Be specific. If you need to know how to forgive yourself, pick up Jampolsky's book on forgiveness.
Just picture yourself as this beloved little child and imagine what you could do for that little child for it to grow up feeling supported and trusting and proud of itself. Then do that.
LIFE IS FOR LOVING
Despite all the popular songs and messages of our "love" obsessed society, love is not just an emotion that comes and goes. Love is the action of a totally transcendent power and process that takes place within us all. This is not an awareness that will be realized without much meditation, re-orientation, and serious work. Love is our ability to know our oneness with all. It transcends outer differences to join us with all in unity. Love is our ability to desire that only good comes to all. Let us shift from "looking for love" to being a more loving expression, from love to loving.
THE DISCIPLE JOHN REPRESENTS THE POWER OF LOVE
The disciple John represents the spiritual Power of Love. And John says, "...God is love."
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not rely on your own insight.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths."c
John was known as "the beloved disciple." And love is the dominant theme of all his teachings and writings. John represents love, and it says he laid his head on the Master's bosom.
One of the most intriguing figures in the New Testament is the unnamed disciple who appears only in the Gospel of John and plays a major role in the final events of Jesus' story. He is introduced at the Last Supper: (John 13:23) "One of his disciples--the one whom Jesus loved--was reclining next to him;"d
The beloved disciple next appears standing with Jesus' mother at the crucifixion site. Jesus loved this disciple as a brother and from the cross Jesus said to his mother, (John 19:26-27) "..."Woman, here is your son." Then he said to the disciple, "Here is your mother." And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home."e
Just after Mary Magdalene reported that Jesus' tomb was empty, the beloved disciple ran to the tomb with Peter and seeing, believed - the first to accept Jesus' resurrection. Later, the beloved disciple was in the group that went fishing with Peter in Galilee. When Jesus appeared on the shore, the beloved disciple was the first to recognize him.
Since the second century, tradition has identified the beloved disciple as the apostle John, the son of Zebedee, and has attributed the fourth Gospel to him. Some scholars believe that the tradition is partly or wholly correct.
John and his brother James were strong, brave men who sailed the sea in little fishing boats in stormy as well as good weather. John showed his courage and devotion in many ways. It was he who stayed at the foot of the cross, comforting Mary, mother of Jesus. John recognized Jesus after his resurrection. Returning from a fishing trip, John looked toward the shore and saw the lone figure of a man whom he recognized as Jesus and said: (John 21:7) "..."It is the Lord!" ..."f
Divine love in the heart establishes one in fearlessness and indomitable courage. (1 John 4:18) "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; ..."g
John and his brother James, the sons of Zebedee, were among the first disciples called by Jesus. Along with Peter, these three fishermen formed an inner circle of men who witnessed events that were not shared by the other apostles, including the raising of Jairus's daughter, the transfiguration, and Jesus' prayer in the garden of Gethsemane.
When this apostle is "called," love is quickened in consciousness. The calling of this apostle consists in bringing into one's consciousness a right understanding of the true character of love, also in exercising love in all the relations of life.
According to the Gospel of Luke, it was John and Peter who were sent to prepare the Passover meal (the Last Supper) on the eve of Jesus' crucifixion.
Apparently in reference to their fiery temperaments, Jesus called the brothers the "sons of thunder" True to his nickname, John once told Jesus, (Mark 9:38) "...Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us."h He and James also asked permission to punish the Samaritans with fire from heaven for their inhospitality to Jesus. Later they urged Jesus to give the two of them places of honor in the kingdom to come, a request that understandably aroused the ire of the other apostles.
Jesus came proclaiming the spiritual interrelationship of the human family. His teaching was always of gentleness, nonresistance, love. (Matthew 5:43-44) "You have heard that it was said, "You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,"i To do this, one must be established in the consciousness of divine love, and there must be discipline of the mental nature to preserve such a high standard. The divine law is founded in the eternal unity of all things, and (Romans 13:10) "...therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law."j
Though his brother James was the first apostle to be martyred, John continued for some time as a prominent leader in the early Christian church. Paul lists John as one of the "pillars" of the Jerusalem church, along with Peter and James the brother of Jesus. His prominence is also recorded in the book of Acts, where he is said to have accompanied Peter on important missions. On one occasion, they healed a lame man and thus encountered the opposition of the Jewish authorities. On another occasion, they were dispatched to Samaria to impart the Holy Spirit to those who had "received the word of God."
Church tradition identifies John as the author of the fourth Gospel and the three letters of John, works that are similar in literary style and in their teaching, as well as the book of Revelation. But many scholars consider it to be unlikely that John wrote anything, since he was known to be an unlettered man. Tradition further identifies John with the otherwise unnamed figure in the Gospel of John known as the beloved disciple. The fate of John is unknown. Some traditions state that he lived to an old age in Ephesus; others, that he was martyred early in life as had been his brother.
Let me close with (1 Corinthians 13)
1 If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have
love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all
knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but
do not have love, I am nothing.
3 If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that
I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or
5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or
6 it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.
7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all
8 Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end;
as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an
9 For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part;
10 but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end.
11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I
reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to
12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to
face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have
been fully known.
13 And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest
of these is love.
b1 John 4:8
g1 John 4:18