Friday, April 16, 2004

"God has not commanded me to love a bloodless abstraction"

The observant Christian discovers anew every day of his life that holiness is compatible with the continuance of irritating personal traits. The devoted human personality remains embedded in nature. If I want God's love through my brother -- and for my own good I ought to be delighted that I am not likely to get it any other way -- I must take it with my brother's moldy jokes, his asinine opinions, his halitosis, and his maddening mannerisms. God has not commanded me to love a bloodless abstraction. Constructive love cannot flourish between me and a human being stripped of the features and ways that repel me and remade to my liking. In loving the work of my own hands, I should merely be loving myself, and in this there is no gain. God is the author of all idiosyncrasies, whether they exist in me or in my neighbor, and in each of them He has wonderfully and inimitably blended the elements of our nature. Simply because the makings of a man are assembled in my brother as they have never been assembled before and will never be assembled again, he has a peculiar grace to communicate to me. I shall never obtain that grace unless I love him, not as I should like him to be, but as God has willed him to be.
From Walter C. Klein, Clothed with Salvation, 1953

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