Elder St Porphyrios writes:
Love towards one’s brother cultivates love towards God. We are happy when we secretly love all people. Then we will feel that everyone loves us. No one can attain to God unless he first passes through his fellow men. For the person who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? (1 John 4:20) We need to love and sacrifice ourselves selflessly for everyone without seeking recompense. A love that seeks something in return is selfish. It is not genuine, pure and sincere.
Love and have compassion for everyone. –Wounded by Love, p. 180
We can search the Scriptures, meditate & contemplate, think on the lives of the saints, sing the songs of the liturgy, fast, and all these things, but we will never love God without loving our neighbour.
So let’s ask ourselves, can we love God if:
- Because of ISIS we don’t love our Muslim neighbours?
- Because of differences in belief we don’t love Mormons?
- Because of a stance on marriage we don’t love homosexuals? Or, because of a stance on marriage, we don’t love those who support traditional marriage?
- Because of an old wound we don’t love a colleague?
- Because of 500-year-old wounds we don’t love Roman Catholics? Or Protestants?
- Because of loud, shouty preachers we don’t love evangelicals?
- Because of wounds in our hearts we don’t love fellow parishioners?
If we have not love, we are nothing. And if we love not our fellow humans, we do not love God.