Love Means Trust

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Love represents the most civilized approach to relationships. Different languages have different words for different types of love, In the Greek language in which the New Testament was written there is mentioned “agape” which refers to the kind of love of God represents. There is    “philia” which refers to brotherly love like Philadelphia, city of brotherly love, and “eros” which refers to romantic love. Love appears in many shades and forms but it is the highest way of holding people together.

But love is an essentially practical approach. If we are individuals or nations or any social unit, we must learn to work together as one to achieve a common goal. The highest and best way to work together for the common goals we want to achieve is to work together. A country with no patriotism, love of country, really has not the social glue to hold people together in practical regional planning. Some sort  of love or affection that involves accommodating each other and trusting each other is necessary for any sort of group success. It does not matter if the group is a family, a nation or a world.

More and more mental health fellows are saying the obvious, that “trust” is necessary for people to work together successfully. One sad aspect of the democratic political system today is that so few feel they can  trust their political leaders who they may feel (possibly correctly) are politicians who will sell them out in a minute or compromise them in two minutes. Trust is needed there. Trust is best understood as a lower  emotional rung or step on the ladder of recognition that leads to love.

People as small and finite individuals must learn to work with others to achieve much of anything.  A person, a group, a country needs allies or friends they trust to work with. The mutually sustaining  relationship must be supportive, helpful and comfortable. Once again this means a lower form of  camaraderie or “philia.” It is perhaps best defined as a comfortable trusting and supportive relationship that is most pleasant, affectionate and warm if not so blazing.

But love is how we are told by divine law to treat our neighbor. Not all
of us may be able to dramatically give love in its most intense and sacrificial divine shape as Christ who died to redeem others.
I sometimes think only saints charged with the most blazing kind of grace from on high can die as Christ did out of love for others. The rest of us who have not been called to so high a mission of dramatic self sacrifice as to die for the redeeming of the world must live quietly to better it.

But we as ordinary Christians can manufacture through reason, a Christian mind and a good heart, many affirming acts of random grace and purposely planned good that may help others. We may bless  others with actions that create trust, supportive conduct, consideration, comradely affection, and loyal friendship in society. We need actions that create an atmosphere of common affection and trust to further cooperation towards common goals among us as a community, a nation and a world. Trust, supportive conduct, consideration, comradely affection, loyal friendship and homely good deeds, confirm the love, patriotism, friendship and trust needed by communities and churches to weave people together to work towards common goals and purposes. For every family, community, nation and the  earth must learn that in love we are one.

So do not think that the type of love referred to by Jesus that we should give our neighbor is restricted to a blazing, intense and dramatic type that we may conjure up when we think of “love thy neighbor.” There  are also milder forms of benevolent expression and meaning under the term of love. Light, friendly and warming meanings that we may not be accustomed to thinking of and doing in busy lives. Yet they should be done and done often. It is through little positive things we build the trust and common affection society needs and which is now so tragically lacking.


The truth of the matter is everyone at times has to swallow pride, put up with vulgar people with low ideas, not take up matters we might want to in order to avert scenes, and bear an endless chain of foolishness to get along in life. Since we have to put up with a lot every day and politely overlook some lesser sins and bad habits anyway, why not laugh and be loving and sensible in so doing?. For this encourages a higher sanity, an amused affection, and a resolution to spread good will that shows affection for our imperfect neighbors. And if we put up with their imperfections, maybe they will be so Christian as to put up with ours.

Since human nature constantly rationalizes its decisions as it goes, and justifies any action to survive and prosper, argument does little good. People are fully rationalized before any argument begins. The argument may only enflame people’s predetermined sense of engrained
self-justifying righteousness.

I am reminded of my father’s story about President Jefferson Davis of the Confederacy. Mr. Davis supported General Braxton Bragg but Bragg’s staff complained to Davis about Bragg. Davis gathered Bragg’s subordinate officers and had them rehearse their complaints about  Bragg in front of Bragg. Then Davis gave a statement in support of Bragg. Not understanding human nature much if at all, Mr. Davis then departed. Mr. Davis thought he had cleared the air with the meeting and had an edifying argument.

Naturally Mr. Davis left behind an enlightened, bitter General Bragg who had now reason to dislike, distrust and want revenge on everyone of his officers who had criticized him to Davis. Mr. Davis simply did not grasp ordinary human nature as many Christians, idealists and do-gooders do not. Probably Jesus, General Robert E. Lee or the great Abraham Lincoln would have had the objective transcendence of a noble and selfless mind to profit from such a  meeting, without getting personally insulted. But General Braxton Bragg shared fully that human nature we all recognize and at times deplore.

No doubt Mr. Davis thought in this manner of meeting he was helping his neighbor. Certainly he was not. Where he would have made things better, Mr. .Davis only made things worse. That was a tragedy of good intentions that miscarried. Such is sometimes the case. Unfortunately Christians and idealists who desire to make things better may only make things  worse. So I urge you by prayer, study, conference and consideration, you endeavor to be  one of those Christians whose attempts to better things do not make things worse.

Because there is a risk that may backfire in doing good and trying to implement practical love for your neighbors, do not give up all effort, because there is some risk. That is to be far too scared of life to function in it. Instead try to do spiritual things with moral intelligence  in a considered and practical manner. And do not do as Mr. Davis did here: rush into a situation  an angel would fear to tread to bring an inane solution that smelled of lack of knowledge and realism about human nature. Human nature is what we are here to redeem, sublimate and overcome. But this is a society of today where people with no deep knowledge of it bandy easy advertising slogan solutions for human nature that show little thought and less spiritual and moral analysis on how to do it. It is not an easy task to “love they neighbor,”  Christ for His sake asks us to do it . Even though it puts us in a risky and complex area, how can we not respond to him in an affirmative manner? It is up to us to give it our best effort.  And leave the rest to the Lord.    


Dr. James MacLeod may be contacted through the Neill Macaulay Foundation.