Recently I have been throwing around a thought in my head about love.
While reading To Love as God Loves the author, Roberta Bondi, says that the desert mothers and fathers of the Christian faith "believed, in spite of society's pressures, that love is the goal of the Christian life and humility is what it takes to bring us toward it."
This is a bit different to me than to think that love is something that we do upon being a Christian. To make love the goal is to take a different posture. Which leads me to the thought.
Love is like a soccer game. Everyone on the team knows the goal is to kick the ball in the back of the net. However, not every player at every moment can achieve this goal. Some people are too far away from the net to do this. Some people have too many opponents in the way. Some people just do not have the ball. And so everyone on the team moves to support the rest of the team to reach the goal. You may have the ball but cannot kick it into the net and achieve the goal, but the next best thing you can do is pass the ball to the right. And you know what, no one is angry with you that you did not score, because everyone on the team knows what the goal is, not everyone can achieve it all of the time.
Likewise with love. You and I cannot achieve loving as God loves all of the time. But we can position ourselves to help move toward the goal. We can work toward reaching the goal of loving as God loves even if we cannot reach it all the time. (We might call this the Way of Salvation or moving on toward perfection).
Why does this matter? For those of us who cannot love the shooters of New Town - we are not in a position to reach the goal of loving as God loves. And so instead of writing off these shooters or saying, "I cannot ever forgive or love them" I reach toward the goal to love as God loves.
Christians do not magically learn how to love as God loves when we become Christian, rather we understand that loving as God loves is a goal that we are working toward our whole lives.