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Without the Least Condemnation

Alyosha…did love people; he lived all his life, it seemed, with complete faith in people, and yet no one ever considered him either naive or a simpleton. There was something in him…that convinced one that he did not want to be a judge of men, that he would not take judgment upon himself and would not condemn anyone for anything. It seemed, even, that he accepted everything without the least condemnation, though often with deep sadness. Moreover, in this sense he even went so far that no one could either surprise or frighten him….
— Dostoevsky, *The Brothers Karamazov*

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Learning Love

The point of being human is to learn love. We are more or less human insofar as we are in the school of love. As was the case for the prodigal son, the place where we learn true love is the path we take to come home to the embrace of our Creator God.

Learning love is a journey back to the reality of the First Love of our lives—the love that was there before we experienced any rejection and that will remain after all rejections. Learning love is accepting the invitation to reclaim the truth of our belovedness. Learning love is letting ourselves be loved fully and extravagantly. We learn to trust that in this love we come to the fulfillment of our humanity and the fulfillment of our calling.

There is nothing more important than learning love, because this is learning that counts for eternity. Learning to love is preparation for union with God. This was the purpose of our creation and is our destiny.
— David G. Benner, *Surrender to Love*, 93.

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Out of Its Element

When sin in a person is encompassed by love, sin is out of its element. It is like a besieged city with all communications cut off. True, sin may use love as an occasion (for what can’t a corrupt person use for corruption!). The sinner can become embittered by love, and rage against it. Yet, in the long run sin cannot hold out against love.
— Soren Kierkegaard

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A Consuming Fire

[L]ove loves unto purity. Love has ever in view the absolute loveliness of that which it beholds. Where loveliness is incomplete, and love cannot love its fill of loving, it spends itself to make more lovely, that it may be perfected — not in itself, but in the object.... Therefore all that is not beautiful in the beloved, all that comes between and is not of love’s kind, must be destroyed. And our God is a consuming fire.
— George MacDonald

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Loving the Other

When I encounter someone with whom I do not have an easy affinity, someone different from me by virtue of age or religion or economics or ability, I want to remember what we hold in common, that we both bear the image of God, the image of love. That reminder doesn’t change our differences or eliminate the markers of our respective identities. It doesn’t make me “color-blind.” Rather, it opens me up to the possibility that in this human being who is different from me, I can see and learn and grow and receive and give back to the love that fuels our existence.
— Amy Julia Becker, *White Picket Fences*, 140.

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A Bridge Over a Crevasse

The love of God always throws a bridge over a crevasse. It is always the light shining out of darkness. In His revelation it seeks and creates fellowship where there is no fellowship and no capacity for it, where the situation concerns a being which is quite different from God, a creature and therefore alien, a sinful creature and therefore hostile. It is this alien and hostile other that God loves. Fellowship with him as such is the fellowship which He seeks and creates. This does not mean that we can call the love of God a blind love. But what He sees when He loves is that which is altogether distinct from Himself, and as such lost in itself, and without Him abandoned to death. That He throws a bridge out from Himself to this abandoned one, that He is light in the darkness, is the miracle of the almighty love of God.
— Karl Barth

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He Gives Us Everything

Loving us, God does not give us something, but Himself; and giving us Himself, giving us His only Son, He gives us everything. The love of God has only to be His love to be everything for us.
— Karl Barth

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