We use the word love expansively.
- I love Doritos.
- I love coffee.
- I love watching the sun come up on a cool crisp morning.
- I love my wife.
I believe a crucial idea when thinking about this is how our loves, order or orient our lives.
I do love Doritos. However, I rarely eat them because I know they aren’t good for me. While my diet was at one time much more oriented around Doritos, it isn’t now. But coffee? My days are pretty clearly oriented towards coffee. The first thing I do every morning is make a pot. Until I have had the opportunity to sit down and enjoy it, I have a difficult time starting my day.. In fact, unless I was sick or had some type of medical issue, I have probably not missed a day in over 35 years.
And a sunrise on a cool morning does have an exhilarating feeling. I clearly don’t love them enough to get out of a warm bed to experience one unless I have to.
When I wrote about “the good life” a couple of weeks ago, I wrote that we tend to behave not based on what we believe, but instead based on what we love.
We will always orient our lives towards our love. We can’t help but do it. The problem comes when our loves are oriented towards the wrong things. Or to quote Augustine (for probably the first time ever here) when we have disordered loves. . And if our loves are out of order, how do we order them as we should?
Doritos were a crucial part of my diet for a long time. Until my diet quite literally ruptured my insides, and I needed to make changes. Turns out I love health and the possibility of a long life even more than I love Doritos. I had a profound experience that required me to reexamine my loves. And through that process, I decided to exchange one love (a particular way of eating) with another (living a long healthy life).
Four passages from the gospels illustrate this idea well. All of these are Jesus speaking.
’And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.Matthew 6:5
They love to be seen by others doing things that would have increased their status.
they [teachers of the law & Pharisees] love the place of honour at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; 7 they love to be greeted with respect in the market-places and to be called “Rabbi” by others.Matthew 23:6–7
They love to be shown honour and respect.
’Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted with respect in the market-places and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honour at banquets.Luke 20:46
Again, honour and respect of others.
Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved human praise more than praise from God.John 12:42-43
In John, it is stated most clearly. They didn’t simply love receiving praise, honour and respect from people. They loved it more than praise from God. And Jesus clarifies that they receive the reward they are seeking, but they deny themselves the prize they could receive.
What they loved was out of order. Jesus doesn’t say they didn’t love praise from God. He says they loved it less than they loved praise from people.
If this is what the Pharisees and teachers of the law loved, what would we expect them to do? Basically, what we see them doing. For them, the good life was respect, honour, and human praise, and they lived their lives seeking after it.
Let me end this with the from a couple of weeks ago. “What do you consider the good life?” Which we can rephrase: “What do you love, and how are those loves orienting your life? ”And, finally, “Are there any loves that need to be reordered?