Works of Love – Week 3(a) – Love’s Hidden Need

This week will be discussing excerpt 29 Love’s Hidden Need and excerpt 30 Love Builds Up of Soren Kierkegaard’s Works of Love found in Provocations. In Love’s Hidden Need, Kierkegaard begins with the idea that the source of love is hidden. Love is like a peaceful lake fed by hidden springs for which we can never discover the source. Just as we can see the light that emanates from God, but we cannot see God directly, so also with Love. God who is Love is unfathomable, ineffable, and eternal, without a beginning or an end, and so it is with Love itself. And, therefore, whenever or however we seek to discover what Love is or to firmly define its boundaries, we only serve to diminish its glory.

If the source of Love is hidden and if it is boundless, how do we know what Love is? Jesus tells us that a tree is known by its fruit (Luke 6:44) and so it is with Love. Our Love is known by its Works of Love. Kierkegaard analogizes that trees and even their leaves may look similar, but it is in their fruit that they are known. We who read the words of the Gospel are the tree. Our words (1 John 3:18) are like the leaves (Matt 21:18-22) which may truly disclose who we are or which may mislead. But in our Works of Love performed in deed and truth, then Love is made manifest and made known. Like the parable of the Sheep and the Goats (Matt 25:31-46) there are those who profess their Love but only in their Works of Love is their true character and imitation of Christ revealed.

Kierkegaard ends this teaching with a warning against self-righteousness. It is not our place to impatiently, suspiciously, and judgingly demand to see the fruits of love in our relationship with the other. For when we busy ourselves with tracking down hypocrites, we are no longer demonstrating our love of the other. Rather, only when we ourselves abide in love can we recognize love in the other. Like knows like, and in love we will know the love of the other.

For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit; for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good man out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil man out of his evil treasure produces evil; for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. 

Luke 6:43-45

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