Wednesday, February 19, 2014

C.S. Lewis / "The Four Loves" / Love and Hate

"As so often, Our Lord's own words are both far fiercer and far more tolerable than those of the theologians.  He says nothing about guarding against earthly loves for fear we might be hurt;  He says something that cracks like a whip about trampling them all under foot the moment they hold us back from following Him.  'If any man come to me and hate not his father and mother and wife... and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple'  (Luke 14:26).

But how are we to understand the word hate?  That Love Himself should be commanding what we ordinarily mean by hatred--commanding us to cherish resentment, to gloat over another's misery, to delight in injuring him--is almost a contradiction in terms.  I think Our Lord, in the sense here intended, 'hated' St Peter when he said, 'Get thee behind me.'  To hate is to reject, to set one's face against, to make no concession to, the Beloved when the Beloved utters, however sweetly and however pitiably, the suggestions of the Devil.  A man, said Jesus, who tries to serve two masters, will 'hate' the one and 'love' the other.

...So, in the last resort, we must turn down or disqualify our nearest and dearest when they come between us and our obedience to God.  Heaven knows, it will seem to them sufficiently like hatred.  We must not act on they pity we feel;  we must be blind to tears and deaf to pleadings.

I will not say that this duty is hard;  some find it too easy;  some, hard almost beyond endurance.  What is hard for all is to know when the occasion for such 'hating' has arisen.  Our temperaments deceive us.  The meek and tender--uxorious husbands, submissive wives, doting parents, dutiful children--will not easily believe that it has ever arrived.  Self-assertive people, with a dash of the bully in them, will believe it too soon. That is why it is of such extreme importance so to order our loves that it is unlikely to arrive at all.  (pp. 149-150).


It happens quite a bit, probably more often than we could know that certain relationships just don't happen, flourish, get started... because you have set out to follow Christ.  It is just too annoying for some people to fathom, and any kind of piety is a stink to them.  This can be obvious, or not so obvious.   And then there are those who purpose to irritate you and draw you away from your faith.  Foremost of all we remember Job's wife for saying:  "Curse God and die."

On the other hand, we can have to most intimate friendships with a huge variety of people.  Acceptance and love and community in Christ opens just so many doors to people's hearts and minds.  There is Agape and Philia, etc.  and there is the Lord right in the midst of us.  And this makes up for everything.

It has to.  Some relationships just can't be had.  They have to go.  That is the 'hate'.  Can't have it both ways.

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