Four Kinds of Love

This Interfaith Devotional program focuses on the power of love and the different forms it takes. These readings have been selected from various religious traditions. Please come and join us on Sundays at 9:30 am at the Beaverton Baha’i Center.

Opening Prayer

Glory be to Thee, O God, for Thy manifestation of love to mankind!

O Thou Who art our Life and Light, guide Thy servants in Thy way, and make us rich in Thee and free from all save Thee. O God, teach us Thy Oneness and give us a realization of Thy Unity, that we may see no one save Thee. Thou art the Merciful and the Giver of bounty!

O God, create in the hearts of Thy beloved the fire of Thy love, that it may consume the thought of everything save Thee. Reveal to us, O God, Thine exalted eternity – that Thou hast ever been and wilt ever be, and that there is no God save Thee. Verily, in Thee will we find comfort and strength.

Bahá’í Faith, Bahá’u’lláh

First Reading

But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked. Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning. Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth. He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is no occasion of stumbling in him.

Christianity, I John 2:5-2:10

For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.

Christianity, I John 3:11

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. … Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit. … And we have known and believed the love that God has to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.

Christianity, I John 4:7-4:16

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Music

Second Reading

The wonderful Law of Attraction, Harmony and Unity, holds together this marvelous Creation. As with the whole, so with the parts; whether a flower or a human body, when the attracting principle is withdrawn from it, the flower or the man dies. It is therefore clear that attraction, harmony, unity and Love, are the cause of life, whereas repulsion, discord, hatred and separation bring death. We have seen that whatever brings division into the world of existence causes death. Likewise in the world of the spirit does the same law operate. Therefore should every servant of the One God be obedient to the law of love, avoiding all hatred, discord, and strife.

Bahá’u’lláh has proclaimed the `Unity of the World of Mankind’. All peoples and nations are of one family, the children of one Father, and should be to one another as brothers and sisters! I hope that you will endeavor in your lives to show forth and spread this teaching. Bahá’u’lláh said that we should love even our enemies and be to them as friends. If all men were obedient to this principle, the greatest unity and understanding would be established in the hearts of mankind.

Bahá’í Faith, `Abdu’l-Bahá

Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.

Judaism, Deuteronomy 7:9

O Son of Being! Love Me, that I may love thee. If thou lovest Me not, My love can in no wise reach thee. Know this, O servant.

Bahá’í Faith, Bahá’u’lláh

Love is the firstborn, loftier than the gods, the Fathers and men. You, O Love, are the eldest of all, altogether mighty. To you we pay homage! Greater than the breadth of earth and heaven, or of waters and Fire, You, O Love, are the eldest of all, altogether mighty. To you we pay homage! In many forms of goodness, O Love, you show your face. Grant that these forms may penetrate within our hearts.

Hinduism, Atharva Veda 9.2.19-20, 25

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Third Reading

What a power is love! It is the most wonderful, the greatest of all living powers. Love gives life to the lifeless. Love lights a flame in the heart that is cold. Love brings hope to the hopeless and gladdens the hearts of the sorrowful. In the world of existence there is indeed no greater power than the power of love. When the heart of man is aglow with the flame of love, he is ready to sacrifice all – even his life. In the Gospel it is said God is love. There are four kinds of love.

The first is the love that flows from God to man; it consists of the inexhaustible graces, the Divine effulgence and heavenly illumination. Through this love the world of being receives life. Through this love man is endowed with physical existence, until, through the breath of the Holy Spirit, this same love- he receives eternal life and becomes the image of the Living God. This love is the origin of all the love in the world of creation.

The second is the love that flows from man to God. This is faith, attraction to the Divine, enkindlement, progress, entrance into the Kingdom of God, receiving the Bounties of God, illumination with the lights of the Kingdom. This love is the origin of all philanthropy; this love causes the hearts of men to reflect the rays of the Sun of Reality.

The third is the love of God towards the Self or Identity of God. This is the transfiguration of His Beauty, the reflection of Himself in the mirror of His Creation. This is the reality of love, the Ancient Love, the Eternal Love. Through one ray of this Love all other love exists.

The fourth is the love of man for man. The love which exists between the hearts of believers is prompted by the ideal of the unity of spirits. This love is attained through the knowledge of God, so that men see the Divine Love reflected in the heart. Each sees in the other the Beauty of God reflected in the soul, and finding this point of similarity, they are attracted to one another in love. This love will make all men the waves of one sea, this love will make them all the stars of one heaven and the fruits of one tree. This love will bring the realization of true accord, the foundation of real unity… These four kinds of love originate from God. These are rays from the Sun of Reality; these are the Breathings of the Holy Spirit; these are the Signs of the Reality.

Bahá’í Faith, `Abdu’l-Bahá

Know thou that in every age and dispensation all divine ordinances are changed and transformed according to the requirement of the time, except the law of love, which, like a fountain, always flows and is never overtaken by change.

Bahá’í Faith, Bahá’u’lláh

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Open Prayers

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Closing Prayer

O God! The clay or being of these servants is kneaded with the water of fidelity and the nature of these maid-servants is adorned with love! They believe and are assured. they are firm and steadfast; they are kneeling and worshipping; they are uttering the Words and are informed. Render them confirmed and victorious with the hosts of strength. Aid and gladden them through the angels of the Kingdom of Abha! At every moment reveal a new power to them and with every breath confer a great bounty. Thus with a heavenly power, divine strength, merciful fragrance, supreme light, and conscious attraction, may they arise to serve Thee, to perfume the East and the West with the fragrances of holiness, establish the universal peace, promulgate integrity and honesty, … to live in perfect love with one another; … to destroy the edifice of jealousy and envy and to establish the law of love and unity, to be truthful servants of mankind and conscientious well-wishers of the human race! O God! Thou art the Able, the Powerful! Thou are the Confirmer and the Helper in all conditions and circumstances!

Bahá’í Faith, `Abdu’l-Bahá

Photo by Robert Collins on Unsplash

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