Reflections – Relating to Others

“The single desire that dominated my search for delight was simply to love and be loved.” ~Augustine (in Confessions)

Augustine was touching on a very important truth in this short, quotable statement. As human beings, what is the most common universal experience which everyone wants? Is it to not feel pain? Is it to get married? To have a high-paying job? To be famous? I would argue that none of these are the most commonly held universal truth. All human beings want to love and to be loved. Babies are born with this need and desire. Little girls dance around dressed in princess costumes because they connect with the fantastical idea of Prince Charming coming to sweep them of their feet. Adolescent boys try to find a manly way to show courage or strength to the pretty girl down the street because they want her to admire them. Elderly ladies call their grandchildren to talk for hours on end because they are lonely and want to be reminded that someone cares. Homeless men sitting on the sidewalks sleep with their faithful dogs because they find comfort in the company. Everyone needs unconditional love.

“Love is the divine way of relating to others and to oneself that moves through every dimension of our being and begins to restructure our world for good” (Revolution of Character, Dallas Willard). If only all of life looked like this! But unfortunately our world is permeated by this thing called sin, our fallen nature, which gets in the way of us experiencing love like Christ’s continually. Because of sin, there are two basic forms of evil in our relations with others: assault (attack) and withdrawal (distancing). Both show lack of concern and care for others around us: lovelessness. “He who does not love abides in death” (1 John 3:14). John is saying that the mere absence of love is deadly! Lovelessness is withdrawal from the LIFE of God Himself.

How can we change this?

  • See ourselves the way God sees us — as made in His image, redeemed, WHOLE, and His beloved!
  • Be willing to be known for who we really are — abandoning defensiveness and being open and transparent
  • Do away with all pretence — showing others genuine LOVE and compassion instead of trying to conjure up false feelings or pity for others –> ask God for the ability to be genuine
  • Open up our social life to include God’s work — serve others devotedly without fear, knowing our identity and worth is found in Christ

I think this is a very practical process for seeking the true, deep community that God intended for us (and in which He Himself participates in the nature of the Trinity!), for “the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” (1 John 4:16)

Leave a comment


  1. Excellent post! I always said that the common thread between all of humanity, whether Christian, Muslim, Atheist, or just confused, is a desire to love and be loved.
    But furthermore, scripture teaches us that God IS love (1 John 4:8). And so, we find that since the primordial human desire is for love, and God is love, it is safe to conclude that the ultimate consummation and satisfaction of human desire is God Himself. Even the Atheist, who denies the existence of The Divine all together, is, in one way or another, desiring God (the atheist is simply unaware of this fact or is living in denial of it)

    • It’s a common thread between all people because we’re made in God’s image. Thus, like you said, we WILL find our greatest satisfaction in God Himself.


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