LIKE LEANING AWAY FROM THE SLOPES WHEN LEARNING TO DOWNHILL SKI, many if not all of the basic premises of real, lasting love are counter-intuitive before we master the black slopes of lasting love relationships and friendship. They are certainly in direct opposition to what the world of hype and advertising bombard us with---if it feels good, then it's love, but if it doesn't feel, feel, feel good, then love has most assuredly died and it's time to move on.
I continue quoting from Tim, with wife Cathy, Keller's outstanding new book on real love and marriage: The Meaning of Marriage, Facing the Complexities of Commitment With the Wisdom of God:
(PLEASE NOTE: As fate would have it, I have a small, early morning crisis involving a lost black cat, aka Blackie, belonging to a good friend who's recovering in the hospital from a car accident this week---one of the reasons I've been away so much. So in true form of action before wanting to, I'm going to help find that little black cat, hopefully before church. It means that I'm dashing into my clothes and, God willing, have to continue this post later today!)
(ADDENDUM! Blackie--the little black farm cat spent his first night outdoors after being let out yesterday and refusing to come back last evening before dark! Therefore he was left to his own devices. I'm happy to report that this morning, I returned to find Blackie curled up on my friend's back deck under a table, contrite and more than ready to come into the house without any coaxing. He was hungry and tired. We were all relieved he was home! Needless to say, I didn't let him or his little companion Snickers the girl cat out today.)
OK, where was I? Oh, back to Tim Keller:
ACTIONS OF LOVE LEAD TO FEELINGS OF LOVE
In one of his BBC radio talks during WWII, C.S. Lewis expounded on the basic Christian virtues, including those of forgiveness and charity (or love). For the British, the world was then unavoidably divided into allies and enemies. In that situation, Lewis said, many of his countrymen and women found the Christian doctrine of forgiving and loving all human beings to be not just impossible but repugnant. 'This sort of talk makes me sick,' many said to him. But Lewis went on to argue that, despite feelings of indifference and even contempt, you can change your heart over the long haul through your actions:
Though natural likings should normally be encouraged, it would be quite wrong to think that the way to become charitable is to sit trying to manufacture affectionate feelings.....The rule for all of us is perfectly simple. Do not waste time bothering whether you 'love' your neighbor, act as if you do. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him. If you injure someone you dislike, you will find yourself disliking them him more. If you do him a good turn, you will find yourself disliking him less....Whenever we do good to another self, just because it is a self, made (like us) by God, and desiring its own happiness as we desire ours, we shall have learned to love it a little more or, at least, to dislike it less....The worldly man treats certain people kindly because he likes them: The Christian, trying to treat everyone kindly, finds himself liking more and more people as he goes on----including people he could not ever have imagine himself liking at the beginning.
Lewis then used an illustration that had great potency, particularly at that time:
This same spiritual law works terribly in the opposite direction. The Germans, perhaps, at first ill-treated the Jews because they hated them: afterwards they hated them much more because they had ill-treated them. The more cruel you are, the more you will hate; and the more you hate, the more cruel you will become---and so on in a vicious circle forever.
To be continued next Sunday.