Love, Caring, Compassion


Artwork by Lexie Anstiss, Cathedral Grammar Schools

Na, tenei te mau nei te whakapono, te tumanako, te aroha, enei e toru; ko te mea nui rawa ia o enei ko te aroha.

1 Cor 13:13

We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another.

1 John 3: 16

What it is:

Aroha is “Giving with no expectation of return… It is like ‘breathing in all the mamae, hurt and worries of another and breathing out love, joy, hope.’”

It is much harder to love if you do not feel loved yourself. On the other hand, if we feel we are deeply loved it’s natural for that to flow out to others. Our love starts, then, with the knowledge of the depth of the love God has for us. “We love because Christ first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

Christian love is putting another before yourself and reaching out wherever there is a need. It may be a practical or physical need, or an emotional or spiritual need. As far as God is concerned everyone is worthy of love. God first loved and cared for us, and in turn we show love and care for others. God created us, and therefore it follows that every person is worthy, every life is precious. 

Mother Teresa said: “Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier.” Before dying on the cross for us, Jesus, during his time on earth, showed us time and time again how to care.

What it is not:

  1. Aroha, Love is not sentimental. It doesn’t indulge in wishful thinking, or romanticise the person loved. In 1 Cor 13, love “rejoices in the truth”: it recognises the sometimes harsh reality of someone and still loves them.
  2. Aroha, Love is not primarily or solely an emotion, although the emotion we call “love” supports the will, decision, act or commitment which is the reality of love. 
  3. Aroha, Love is no longer love if it seeks power over another.

What makes this a Christian value?

  1. First, it is a religious value. If followed to its logical end, a materialist view of life should support something like the survival of the fittest, not compassion for all. Pure materialists have no particular reason for believing that everyone is worthy of care, even those who are weak or unpleasant or cruel. The fact that most materialists would agree about the importance of compassion is largely due to the enduring impact of religious values on society. 
  2. The Christian faith teaches that we are all made in the image of God, that God loves everyone and that we are called to do so too. 
  3. This teaching is based on faith in something (someONE) beyond ourselves. This means that it is not something we have decided to believe because we want to believe it. Equally, it is not something we can decide not to believe if we change our minds when things get tough. It’s not up to us to decide whether someone is worthy of care or not. God has already decided they are, whether we like it or not!
  4. Jesus highlighted the key difference when he points out that any decent human will love those who love them. Where Christians are called to be different is that they are told to love their enemies and pray for those who are out to hurt them. They are called to care for the hateful and the unlovable, those who reject us and those others reject. This is a good example of how our school values, when they are Christian values, are a lot more demanding and difficult than their secular counterparts.