Rightly Ordered Love (Keller)

Making Sense of God: An Invitation to the Skeptical I’m very much enjoying Tim Keller’s Making Sense of God.  Here’s a section I read this  morning that really resonated with me since Keller was discussing Augustine’s view of love rightly ordered:

You harm yourself when you love anything more than God.  How does this work? If you love your children more than you love God, you will essentially rest your need for significance and security in them.  You will need too much for them to succeed, be happy, and love you. That will either drive them away or crush them under the weight of your expectations, because they will be the ultimate source of your happiness, and no human being can measure up to that.  If instead you love your spouse or romantic partner more than God, the same things occur. If you love your work and career more than God, you will necessarily also love them more than your family, your community, and your own health, and so that will lead to physical and relational breakdown and often, as we saw above, to social injustice.

If you love anything more than God, you harm the object of your love, you harm yourself, you harm the world around you, and you end up deeply dissatisfied and discontent.  The most famous modern expression of Augustine’s view was the ending of [C. S.] Lewis’s radio talk [mentioned earlier].

‘Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food.  A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water.  Men feel sexual desires: well, there is such a thing as seeks.  If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.’

The Augustinian analysis does justice to our experience.  As we saw, the evolutionary explanation of our perennial discontent fails to account for it.  The idea that ‘most people are basically happy’ trivializes it, but it is not trivial at all.  Some have, as it were, sought to fill the inner emptiness with billions of dollars and virtually unchecked power to gratify their impulses and appetites.  Yet the testimony of the ages is that even goods on this scale cannot fill the vacuum.  That is powerful evidence that the cavern in our soul is indeed infinitely deep.

Timothy Keller, Making Sense of God, p. 91

Shane Lems
Hammond, WI, 54015