The Four Degrees of Love (#941)

In the mid-1100s, Bernard of Clairvaux, a mystic and monk in France, considered how we experience the love of God. He published a devotional called the Love of God, in which he identified four degrees, or progressions: (1) loving ourselves for our own sake, (2) loving God for our own sake, (3) loving God for his own sake, and (4) loving ourselves for God’s sake. In a fascinating conversation, Wayne and Sara ponder these progressions in their individual relationships with God and in their relationship with each other, before the revelation of Sara's trauma and after.

Podcast Notes:


  1. It is so refreshing that you talk to each other about the everyday experiences – especially Sarah – it feels as if she is exploring and discovering life and her feelings in a new way, and how you support her all the way.

    I have been depressed, angry and bitter for many years, and only realised recently that, although I have ‘accepted Jesus’ more than 40 years ago, that I was missing it, because if I did not forgive, God couldn’t forgive me, and that I lived with a false ‘sense’ of salvation. It was liberating to forgive. I also learned that I can forgive, but at the same time, distance myself from toxic people (family) in my life I hated for do many years. Since then, my husband (we married late in life – he is 79 and I am 66 – and have been married for 14 years), pray and talk together every evening, and discuss all these ‘new’ things I discover.

    I have peace for the first time in my 66 years. My mind is no longer ‘fuzzy’. It is easier to identify spells of depression and work through it.

    • Thank you, Lidia. I love how Sara is navigating here life now and blessed to hear that you are experiencing greater freedom in your own journey as well. I know Sara will be touched to read your words.

  2. The 4 th level reminded me of this quote.
    “God says to her that he’s so freely chosen to be so hopelessly in love with her, that he quite honestly doesn’t know if he could handle being God without her. And she says back to God, “Take me home with you. I’ll be your physician forever!” [1] The power of these words is that, as we’re reading them, we know they are true of us. We know that God has freely chosen to be so hopelessly in love with us, and that God doesn’t know if God can handle being God without us in our brokenness…. It circulates back around, and we give back to God the gift that God longs for, which is us!…”. Mechthild of Magdeburg offers in The Flowing Light of the Godhead.
    Via James Finley
    Mechthild (or Mechtild, Matilda,[1] Matelda[2]) of Magdeburg (c. 1207 – c. 1282/1294), a Beguine, was a Christian medieval mystic,
    Border crossing happens and the hierarchy ( the separateness of me and God) disappears. Everything that is true about Jesus is true about me. Radical Acceptance of myself includes all of my brokenness deeply accepted and seen. Reciprocity vertically now can happen laterally in all my relationships.
    I love this conversation. I love the vulnerability and care between you. Amazing love of Zooey. Amazing Grace how sweet.

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