"Thanks and thanks again to Him who offers to the man whom the sorrows of life have assaulted and left naked–offers to him the fig leaf of the Word with which he can cover his wretchedness." -Søren Kierkegaard

Love: Particular vs. Universal

Posted in Questions For You, Theological by matt on Thursday, August 28, 2008

I was recently sprawled out on the floor of an airport terminal eating Thai noodles while awaiting my flight. Between mouthfuls I paused and said aloud, “I love Thai food.” After uttering this profound statement I realized what a chach I am for saying this out loud in a busy airport. However, just a few minutes later I decided to add, “In fact…I think I love all food!”

Now, let’s consider the two simple options:

(a) Matt loves all food – if it’s edible, he loves it. His affection is not limited to one taste or style, it’s universal. His love for food is unhindered and unprejudiced.

(b) Matt particularly loves Thai food. In the realm of edibility it is the supreme object of his affection and other tastes can’t even begin to compare (this isn’t true, but go with me here). His love for Thai food is personal and specific.

[NOTE: In this post I’m using the ever-ambiguous word ‘love’ to simply mean the object of one’s affection. I recognize the importance of differentiating between types, but all you Bible scholars will just have to bite the bullet on this one because I’m intentionally keeping it vague. Classifying the different loves is not the point of this post.]

Put statements (a) and (b) together and you’ve got a pretty obvious tension;  So how do we understand these differences? Is one better or more important? Should they overlap? Should we pursue both kinds of love, or is that even possible?

I’m glad you asked! Though…I don’t really know…

But, as a Christ-follower, I believe God is able to love particularly and universally. By faith we have the freedom to believe in the illogical, and this is one such thing. Obviously I’m not talking about Thai food anymore (though I bet God digs that stuff too) but about His capacity for loving people. For the sake of clarity allow me to restate (a) and (b):

(a) God loves everyone equally. He doesn’t love certain people more or less, and there really isn’t anything about you to make Him love you. He just does.

(b) God loves you personally – unlike anyone else. His affection for you is intimately personal and His love for you is unique.

So be encouraged; God’s love for you is unique! Though, I suppose His love for you isn’t all that different from His love for others…(hahaha)…

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  1. Emily E said, on Friday, August 29, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    I think you’re the only person I know that can equate loving thai food with God’s love and talk in third person while still sounding at least halfway intelligent.

    that’s impressive.
    halfway kidding, but good post and a new thing to think about.
    praying for y’all!

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