Journey of Love
Nov 23, 2009 by Bruce Demarest | 0 Comments
The Christian life has been likened to a journey or a pilgrimage. Christian authorities throughout history have described the spiritual journey using a variety of motifs. One of the great spiritual masters of all times, the twelfth century preacher, theologian and spiritual counselor Bernard of Clairvaux—whom Calvin called a reformer 400 years before the Reformation—depicted the journey in four stages as the development of love.
The first degree of love, Bernard asserted, is that we love ourselves for our own sake (cf. Matt. 22:39) as valued persons created in God’s image. Bernard called this immature love, or love of self for self. He noted that we push onward to the second degree of love, namely, that we love God for our own sake, or for the blessings and consolations he brings into our lives (cf. Psa. 50:15). This Bernard called prudent love, or love of God for self.
A higher or purer love, however, beckons believers on the journey. The third degree of love is that we love God for God’s sake, transcending the consolations of God to engage personally and intimately the God of consolations (Phil. 3:10). Bernard called this unselfish love, or love of God for God. The fourth and final degree of love, Bernard noted, is that we love ourselves for God’s sake. By this he meant that mature pilgrims experience God’s ravishing love at a deep level (cf. Eph. 3:17-19). Bernard called this perfect love, or love of self for God. This fourth level of love offers a foretaste of the perfect love Christians will enjoy eternally in heaven. Where are you on this marvelous journey of love?