February 6, 2017, Prescott- In Baha’i Scripture, as well as in the Teachings of Christ, four kinds of love are identified: The love of God for His Creation; the love of God for His children; the love of man for God and the love of man for man.
It is the fourth kind, on which I will reflect, in this post. There are several subsets of this type of love. Some are obvious- Parental love, and its mirror image: Filial love (which, in this context, applies to both sons and daughters). The love one has for extended family is an outgrowth of parental and filial love. Love of spouse, likewise, in most cases extends to the spouse’s family. Clan and tribe are the furthest biological love boundaries, traditionally.
Love for one’s neighbours and community takes this a step past the bounds of family. Over time, this has found extension in the form of loyalty to state, country, civic organization, interest group (including political parties and service organizations) and faith community. Love for all mankind is the furthest expression of inter-human love, and is regarded as the consummate goal of a Baha’i, in this physical plane.
Love can be expressed in various ways: Gentle, patient suasion; forbearance; standing alongside the beloved; “tough” holding the beloved’s feet to fire, so to speak. The goal of any human love, though, would seem to be helping the beloved to attain nearness to God and the development of his/her talents and abilities. This isn’t always a simple task, and may entail a combination of the four ways mentioned, at the head of this paragraph. A prime example of this is love of one’s opponents, or perceived enemies. Seeing their good qualities, and not depriving them of basic human rights, is certainly an illustration of such.
St. Matthew wrote that such inter-human love is “not snide” and “does not put on airs”. In the Baha’i Writings, it is stated that “Love is the secret”, to all that is good in the Universe, and “In the world of existence, there is no greater power, than the power of love.”
May there be a ten-fold, or hundred-fold increase in the subsets of inter-human love.