A Love That Desires God

From True Christianity, 3 (1590)

Just as our natural life has its stages, its childhood, manhood, and old age, so too our spiritual and Christian life is set up. It has its beginning in repentance… A greater enlightenment follows after this like middle age, through the contemplation of divine things, through prayer, through the cross, through which all God’s gifts are increased. Finally comes the perfection of old age, being established in complete union through love, which St. Paul calls “the perfect age of Christ” and being “a perfect [i.e. finished] man in Christ,” Eph 4:13…

You must give God your whole heart and soul, not just your understanding, but also your will and sincere love. Many people think that it is quite enough and even excessive for their Christianity if they grasp Christ with the understanding, through reading and disputation… They do not realize that the other chief power of the soul, namely the will and the dear love, also belong there… There is a great distinction between the understanding by which one knows Christ and the will by which you love him…

See here is the true perfection of the Christian life. For perfection is not as some think a high, great, spiritual, heavenly joy and meditation, but it is the denial of your own will, love, honor, a knowledge of your own nothingness, a lasting completion of God’s will, a burning love for neighbor, a sincere compassion, and in sum a love that desires, thinks, and seeks for God alone as far as possible in the weakness of this life.

Johann Arndt (1555-1621) was a German Lutheran pastor and theologian, best known for his devotional writings, which drew from medieval and Reformation sources to emphasize Christ’s union with the soul and the call to holy living. His works, especially True Christianity, deeply influenced the Pietist Movement that began shortly after his death


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