HERE IS A PLACE to remember that for Christianity, the final affirmation about the nature of God is contained in the verse from the First Epistle of John: God is love. So another way of saying what I have just said is that man's deepest longing is for this love of God of which every conceivable form of human love is a reflection, however distorted a reflection it may be—"the smallest glass of love mixed with a pint pot of ditch-water," as Graham Greene says somewhere. And it is just for this reason that part of man's longing for the love of God can be satisfied simply by the love of man—the love of friend for friend, parent for child, sexual love—and thank God for that, literally thank him, because for many people human love is all there is, if that, because that is all they can believe in.
But notice this: that love is not really one of man's powers. Man cannot achieve love, generate love, wield love, as he does his powers of destruction and creation. When I love someone, it is not something that I have achieved, but something that is happening through me, something that is happening to me as well as to him. To use the old soap-opera cliché seriously, it is something bigger than both of us, infinitely bigger, because wherever love enters this world, God enters.
- Originally published in The Magnificent Defeat