Focal Passage: 1 Jn. 4:7-12
In Phillip Yancey’s book What is So Amazing About Grace, he quotes Dorothy Day as follows: “I really only love God as much as the person I love least.” When I originally read that I thought it was an exaggeration. I assumed it was exaggerated to make a point, and further assumed that I had gotten the point. I moved on.
In reading 1 John, I now realize that wasn’t an exaggeration. The writer of the tiny epistle would have us believe that “loving” is who we are as Christians by definition. That in order to be ourselves and be like God, we must love and we must do so completely. In the focal passage there isn’t even any mention of degree, nothing like loving most or least, just an expectation that those who know God would love.
When we learn to love the way God loves, there are no “levels” of love. We can’t love this person a little and that person a lot. There may be different types of love, and those may apply in our lives to the different human relationships we have. But inside the family of God, degree is replaced with completeness. There are no shades of gray on God’s “black and white love scale.” Either you love or you don’t.
I’ve concluded that Day’s words might, in fact be true. I may only love God as much as the person I love least. My problem is there are some people I haven’t loved as I am commanded to do, as God love requires. You see, it isn’t how much I love but that I love that is important.