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Confucius, Punishment, and Perfect Love

“He rejected the Realists’ answer of force because it was clumsy and external. Force regulated by law can set limits to peoples’ dealings, but it is too crude to inspire their day-to-day, face-to-face exchanges. With regard to the family, for example, it can stipulate conditions of marriage and divorce, but it cannot generate love and companionship.” – Smith on Confucius in “The World’s Religion,” p.167

Confucius desired to bring order to society in a day when everyone did what was right in their own eyes. One group in his day supposed that they could bring about order through force and fear, but Confucius saw that this way does not lead to any real kind of transformation.

While he settled on a different way that involved social structures and guiding beliefs, he did insist on the importance of love, just not to the extent that some of his contemporaries did.

Regardless, the principle mentioned in the passage above is something that would be perfected by Jesus in his life, teaching, and sacrifice. His disciple and close friend John wrote, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:18–19).

Perfect love is more than an attitude or disposition; it is coming to realize that you are perfectly, wholly loved by the Creator. It’s this kind of love that can transform a person. It’s this kind of love that can make all things new.

When the love of God manifested in Jesus begins to dawn on us, it transforms the way we see everything around us.

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