To love God more I learned theology. I refuted countless heretics and put them to shame, but I did not learn how to love God there. I merely learned to love winning. I did not propagate the love of truth, only indignation against lies. No one loved me more, and neither did I love more, though many men hated me more. I was not comforted, and my longing worsened. My love of winning had swollen my pride. I learned more and became more fluent in theology than most people ever dream to be, but I did not earn by pursuit of it that which I wished to obtain. I had been certain that if only I understood God I would not offend him, that if I observed His beauty I would love him and not betray Him. Imagine my horror when I had exhausted the intellectual and theological offerings of our fathers, and was still a wretch.
I reasoned, then, that I had understood what was acting, but I had not understood what was being acted on. I hadn't understood the relationship. So, I became a philosopher. I learned the truth about what the difference is between what I think I know, and what I do know. I learned even more intimately about God, which made me happy. All human activities and the ways of angels, and the cosmos were exposed to me and nothing was beyond the apprehension of my reasoning. I knew what men meant to say when they did not know how to say it, what they meant to do when they failed to do it. I knew better what they were loving than they themselves did. But though I knew better that which they loved, for all my knowledge and understanding, it did not produce love greater than theirs. These who were ignorant of what the good really is, of who God really is, why He is, and themselves loved in a way that made me pine to be like them. Just as we all seek to love as children do and to be pure as they are, so was I seeking. There were simple answers for everything, and yet I was not simple. Beloved philosophy did not make me love, but she showed why everything I learned in theology was. She gave me a reason for all the foolishness of the Gospel.
Before I did not lust, because God said not to, not because I understood why it was evil. I did not curse because the scripture said not to, and not because I understood cursing to be evil. I forgave because it was obligatory, or because I wanted to be forgiven, and not because I understood that the welfare of my neighbor affects my welfare, not because I understood that they suffered more greatly for doing evil than I did suffer for having it done to me. Before, I thought that man was ignorant because he was evil; I did not understand that he is evil because he is ignorant. In all this blind, juvenile obedience I had no thought for myself, for my emotions, for my needs, my wants, or my desires. As selfless as I was, I had no love and it profited me nothing. Theology had taught me to do what was right, but it was She who taught me why I ought to do it. And so, like the ancient philosophers, philosophy gave me this much, if it did not make me love: I learned to do without the law and with no one to make me, that which other men do only out of fear of the law or because they are forced to do so.
I understood, then, that if I was to love God, to truly love God, and to have a pure life I must love. I must love through actions. In order to love 'Love,' who is God, I must become that which I aimed to love. Theosis, I understood, was my aim. As He is an all consuming flame, I too must be set on fire, not in order to be destroyed, but to become flame. To love in the act. To love all that I see, by having a pure look. I knew that if I did not make myself into love, then the Love of God would destroy me in it's inferno. For the eternal embrace of God is to the righteous person perfect homeostasis and peace, because the two flames become one through Christ in the Holy spirit, and to the evil person that same embrace is an unrelenting torment.
I had sought God, I had sought His face, because I believed that if I just saw Him I would be cured. Blessed be, I was not self-deceived in thinking this. Only I only saw dimly, in theology, and in philosophy. At last I saw, and knew in truth that my clearest revelation of God was my human neighbor. I knew that if I saw God it would be love at first sight, all-curing love. And so, I knew that I must love my neighbor, because my best revelation of God is His image, mankind. God is best loved when we love mankind.
God was too terrible a thing to gaze upon for me; a worm like myself would shrivel and burn at His appearance. But like Perseus, I gazed into a reflection and was able to look upon a lethal sight, he a hideous gorgon, but me Beauty itself, who is God. Man was that reflection I gazed at, and if I looked into that mirror and detested all that I saw, then in truth I hated God. Purity comes from love of neighbor, as does prudence, as does wisdom, as does all virtue and happiness.
Now, the great adventure is to learn how to love. That is to say, to learn who to love and in what way, and at what time and to which extent. Who should I strike out of love, and who should I embrace. Who should I confront and who should I defend. Who should I give to and to whom should I turn my back. And many other similar questions there are. A life figuring them and acting them all out is not wasted. Truly, without love, you are nothing.
"Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and choice, is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim." ~Aristotle~