The lyrics of this famous song by the singer Tina Turner talks about a person who has been jilted by love and no longer needs this emotion in their life. What is love? It is a subject that arguably has been written and spoken about more than any other in the world. It has been the subject of philosophers, writers, artists, and poets since the beginning of time.
When people are in love, their whole life changes. Their entire being becomes focused on the other person. They cannot eat or sleep. Their existence revolves around the deep amorous affection they profess for the other individual. They say “I Love You” incessantly. Their love, however, hinges on one very important factor. They presume that this deep devotion and affection is returned equally. People expect a symbiotic relationship in which both equally benefit. This love is based on selfishness. If you don’t love me, I won’t love you. If you don’t like me, I will hate you. How many marriages and relationships have dissolved over time because people have “fallen out of love” with each other. What happened? The person that once owned your heart and possessed your thoughts disintegrates into feelings of apathy, and sometimes hatred. There is a different type of love, however, and that is the love of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Christ is the source of life, love, and happiness. His love for us is selfless. He continues to love us no matter what we do in our lives. This is the essence of Christ. His unlimited mercy and compassion for us his children. This is a concept that we have a problem understanding. How can God continue to love and forgive me? We wrongly anthropomorphize the way Christ thinks. We believe that God contemplates and rationalizes the way we do. That he must, through our sins, find us abhorrent and detestable. There is, however, no satiation to our Lord’s boundless love for us. He has no need of our love, but he wants us to feel ultimate joy within him. It is a joy that lasts forever. The Saints of the church tell us that the love of Christ is a divine intoxication that fills our souls with serenity and eternal happiness. Christ wants to enrich our lives with joy. “I pray that your joy may be full” (John 1:4).
The essence of the Orthodox church is to establish a relationship of love with our Lord Jesus Christ. This bond should be based on passion, enthusiasm, and a longing to become one with our creator. This connection, once established, is a love that cannot be taken away or extinguished. Our goal in life is to enter into his love. To become one with our creator. This is the only thing that will fill us with ultimate joy and serenity. When we reach this state, we come to know Christ.
How do we learn to love Christ? The holy fathers tell us that we first must learn to love God’s church. The church is a living entity. A community whose only goal is to seek paradise. Paradise can only be achieved by love and humility. These are the cornerstones of repentance. The true Christian must learn to love one’s neighbor, including his enemies. We should care about all people. We should want everyone to be saved. That everyone should partake of the Kingdom of Heaven. This is true Orthodox Christianity. When we learn to love our neighbor, we learn to love the Church. By loving the Church, we learn to love God because Christ is the head of the church. He is the fountain and nucleus of love. As a result of being members of Christ’s church, by loving the church, we learn to love ourselves. If we do not show compassion and love for other people, then we separate ourselves from the grace of God. Life without Christ is eternal darkness. It is the demise of our soul. The absence of God’s love is eternal death.
When we participate in God’s love, we truly experience paradise on Earth. We learn to appreciate everyone and everything around us. There is nothing that we have to fear. Saint John the Evangelist says, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. The person who fears is not perfect in love” (John 4:18). When there is love in Christ, all the negative human emotions disintegrate from our lives. There is no loneliness, melancholia, anxiety, or depression. There is only joy that increases as we get closer to our Lord Jesus Christ. The Saints tell us that the more we drink of this cup, the more we want.
Our Lord’s love and grace is constantly knocking on the door of our soul. It is up to us to open the door and let Christ in. The number one complaint from most people is that they do not feel fulfilled. There is no joy or happiness in their lives. Our soul yearns to be happy. Only through our Lord Jesus Christ is true joy possible. Through prayer, humility, and confession we can all learn to love God. Christ is waiting for all of us to let him into our hearts. What’s love got to do with it?