Bernard Clairvaux was a man who dedicated his life to serving God and had a great urge to love God. He worked on the four stages of loving God and influenced the Christian perception and practice greatly. According to Harris (123), Bernard believed that human beings should have started loving themselves, their neighbors and God. The reasons to love God are because He is the creator and deserves their love. Finally, it is important to love God because He lives in us, and there should be no separation of ourselves and God.
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Bernard explains why we should love God and how much we should do it. We have a debt to love God because of His unconditional love for us, His will to draw us closer to Him while we are still sinners and His work in our lives even when we fall short of his glory.
Human beings are insatiable and will often see the glass half empty rather than half full. Worldly, possession is never fulfilling; we always want more yet it is enough at no point. We often take for granted what we have. However, God gives us wisdom, dignity and virtue. These three things aid us in figuring out and appreciating that if it were not for God, then we would not make anything as far as we have.
People have the tendency to do things that will naturally yield benefits to them. A person starts by loving God for the benefits that result in there. This is a selfish side of people. That is why human beings will pray consistently when they need a miracle and forget prayer sessions when things are running smoothly.
At this stage, the relationship between God and a person is one-sided. God loves us unconditionally, and as a result, He let his Son die for our sins yet he was not a sinner. But we only want to love God when it is convenient for us. This is the first phase of loving God where we love God because we realize that He helps us get things we cannot achieve without His aid.
The issue of loving your neighbor results from knowing and believing in Gods’ love for us and seeing the great things He does in our lives. At this point, we are beyond the stage of hearing of what He can do and experience in His work. We stop loving God because He helps us, but love Him because we have experienced how wonderful and fulfilling it is to be with Him. When you love God, it makes it easier for you to love your neighbors.
When man stops considering his personal desires and focuses on doing the will of God, he gets into the stage of loving himself in God. Doing the things that please the Father and forgetting the things of the world are a great accomplishment for human beings. We wish to do the right thing, but our bodies fail us. It is when we cry to God for help that He renews our strength and helps us to stay according to His will.
When we get to the fourth degree of love, we are of the spirit and delivered from bodily desires; this is the stage at which one becomes a martyr because he believes in God and in what is in store for him when he gets to heaven. A metamorphosis takes place from the love of the flesh to love of God, and as a result, man finds satisfaction amidst the challenges in the world.