Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us. 1 JOHN 4: 7– 12
Thomas Merton once said, “If a person has to be pleasing to me, comforting, reassuring, before I can love him, then I cannot truly love him. Not that love cannot console or reassure! But if I demand first to be reassured, I will never dare to begin loving. If a person has to be a Jew or a Christian before I can love him, then I cannot love him. If he has to be black or white before I can love him, then I cannot love him. If he has to belong to my political party or social group before I can love him, then I cannot love him. If he has to wear my kind of uniform, then my love is no longer love because it is not free: it is dictated by something outside itself. It is dominated by an appetite other than love. I love not the person but his classification, and in that I love him not as person but as a thing. I love his label which confirms me in my attachment to my own label. But in that case I do not even love myself. I value myself not for what I am, but for my label, my classification. In this way I remain at the mercy of forces outside myself, and those who seem to me to be neighbors are indeed strangers for I am first of all a stranger to myself.” –THOMAS MERTON, SEASONS OF CELEBRATION, 174 GOD IS LOVE
He (Merton) raises a great question. Do we love because of the return we get on our investment? I would hope not. Love of this kind is empty, shallow and unfulfilling. Paul wrote, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. … And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (1Co 13:4-8; 13 NIB)
Perfect love went to Calvary. Jesus knew that many would reject him, and yet he still went to the cross. That’s love.