The Opposite of LoveFr. Barnabas Powell
And the truth is love takes the same. To love something or someone takes attention, focus, and even preoccupation with the object of your love. You remember the first time you “fell” in love (by the way, I really dislike that phrase “fell in love” as if it were beyond my control or some spell was put on me!) all you wanted to do was be around the person you loved. There has never been a big brother or big sister that doesn’t remember the aggravating little brother or sister that always wanted to follow them around. They loved their bigger sibling and they wanted to do everything they did.
No, the opposite of love isn’t hate. These two emotions are too similar to be opposites.
The opposite of love is indifference.
Taking no thought of another or of a subject or a value is the exact opposite of loving another. Disrespect, dismissive indifference is the opposite of true love. And this dismissiveness takes no thought at all. It takes a practiced ignorance and a chosen forgetfulness that always clearly shows a lack of love. Whole romance novels have been written about unrequited love. There really is nothing as painful as loving someone else who could care less about you.
But there are consequences to this dismissive indifference, especially when this thoughtlessness has as its object our relationship to God.
Look at our Epistle lesson this morning. In Romans 1:28-32; 2:1-9 St. Paul writes to the Christians in Rome about the sad state of a society that purposefully forgets God.
Listen to Paul: “BRETHREN, since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a base mind and to improper conduct. They were filled with all manner of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity, they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s decree that those who do such things deserve to die, they not only do them but approve those who practice them.” Romans 1:28-32.
What is true of a society that forgets God is also true of a person who forgets God Every time you are forgetful of God in your life, you head toward darkness and self-centered living. So, the remedy of this sad and dangerous pattern of behavior is to do those things that help you remember God.
Notice Paul says “God gave them up to a base mind…” (Romans 1:28) God isn’t interested in robots or slaves. He calls us not merely to obey Him or just fear Him. No, He invites us to a much deeper and a much more involved choice of entering into a loving relationship with Him. And this is because He knows that all the other motivations of acknowledging God are always too weak to last a lifetime. Only love is strong enough to affect the really necessary transformation of my heart to a true and fitting companion for God forever.
Today, what are the disciplines in your life that allow you to remember God moment by moment? Thankfully, you don’t have to depend on your imagination for these spiritual tools that lead to love. Centuries of wisdom, insight, and Spirit-inspired direction are immediately available to you right now through the wise pattern of worship and prayers in the Church.
So, if indifference is the opposite of love, where has forgetful indifference poisoned your life? Let’s get that dealt with, shall we?