“Love your neighbor as yourself” doesn’t mean that I must learn to love myself before I can love others: it recognizes that, even if I despise or hate myself, I already do love myself.
It took a very long time for me to recognize and begin to accept that the primary law of the spiritual life is simply this: “it’s not about me.”
In 1 John, the apostle makes the explicit identification of God and agapē — universal love — that can serve as the primary interpretive principle for post-theistic Friends in our reading of both scripture and the Quaker tradition.
Life in agapē is life in the “freedom of the children of God,” the liberty of those whose Spirit is divine. It differs radically from the ersatz liberty of the human spirit that, breathing where it believes it should, remains nonetheless enclosed.
In John’s story of the discovery of the Resurrection by Mary the Magdalene, Mary speaks my heart. As have I, she moves from sorrow over loss of a God-object to trust in a Christ-spirit to which we cannot cling.
“I tell you truly, truly: if one is never born from water and spirit, one is not able to go into the kingdom of God.” How might Quakers understand that saying? The creation story in Genesis offers one possibility.
In 1652, Margaret Fell heard George Fox preach and felt her life change profoundly. This post offers a contextual paraphrase of Fell’s account with commentary.