In-Sight: A School of Love #3

Every good school has opportunities to “learn by doing.”  Chemistry classes include laboratories.  Home Economics classes include kitchens.  Language classes make field trips to places where students can speak what they have learned.

And so, Schools of Love practice love.  I referenced that already in last week’s post, but it must be identified specifically.  It is why the Franciscans emphasized a “lived theology,” and why John Wesley identified “Experience” (practical divinity) separately from the already-existing Anglican trilateral of Scripture, Tradition, and Reason.

Monastic communities practiced love most on each other, until it became second-nature and would, therefore, flow naturally to those outside the community, or to those who came to it as guests. 

Dr. Glenn Hinson once described this practice of love in these words: “Think oneness with one another, shun arrogance, and go along with one another in humility.  Do not be smart-alecky.” (Weavings, Vol 24, No 4, p. 44).  When I read his words, I remembered similar ones written by Thomas Merton, confessing that this internal, 24/7 love of fellow monks was actually much harder than loving strangers–precisely because he had to live with the other monks all the time (until death), not just for a short time or a few days.

Here is the reason why the practice of love begins between and among Christians.  Here is the proving ground, and if we fail to love one another, the world will not be impressed with our alleged love for them–the world will not be drawn to the Church as a School of Love when it really isn’t one.

This is why we cannot sublimate the practice of love under any other idea or absorb it into any other concept.  It must remain highlighted so that it has at least a chance of being real.

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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