26 January 2012
Eugene Rose Lay Sermon Sept 1963
Of no subject did our Lord and His Apostles speak more often than of love; love is the very foundation of the Christian life. “God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him” (I Jn 4:16). It is the greatest commandment of our Lord, and the chief sign of his followers. “A new commandment I give unto you: that you love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another” (Jn 13:34-35).
Today, when the spirit of Antichrist prevails in the world, men again speak of love; many who call themselves Christians cooperate with unbelievers and pagans thinking to build a “new age” of “brotherly love” and “peace on earth.” But these are a worldly “love” and “peace” that are no more than a deceptive imitation and mockery of true Christian love and peace. “Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, nay; but rather division” (Lk 12:51). The lot of the Christian in this life is one of constant warfare with the world and its temptations; and even love, if it be not the love of Jesus Christ, can be such a temptation. “He that loveth father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me” (Mt 10:37).
Christian love seems difficult to the world, primarily because its reward is not in this life, but in the life to come. Those who preach worldly “peace” and “love” do not believe in the future life, or else they believe in it half-heartedly, regarding it as something vague and distant. For the Orthodox Christian, on the other hand, the whole meaning of love resides in its fulfillment in eternal life. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (Jn 3:16). The worldly man, if he loves his fellow man, does so out of pity for his weakness and mortality, and from concern to make his short life pleasant while it lasts; such love has no power over death, and it ends with death. The Christian, however, loves his fellow man because he sees in him one created in the image of God and called to perfection and eternal life in God; such love is not human but divine, seeing in men not mere earthly mortality, but heavenly immortality.
Our Lord has warned us: “Ye shall be hated of all men for My name’s sake” (Matt. 10:22), and in time of persecution Christians may well be tempted to doubt, to fear, and even to hate in return. But Christian love, which is not bound by death, is powerful enough to overcome these temptations. Our Lord has commanded us: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you” (Mt 5:44). In these commandments the standards of the world are reversed and overthrown, and the way is opened to the Kingdom of Heaven, which is to be an eternal Feast of Love.