Lives take shape gradually; only by living our lives do we realize the possibilities open to us. This is true of Christian life as well as human life generally. In this chapter we shall consider Christian love as the principle shaping Christian life.
We have already seen, in the preceding chapter, that Christian love—which is also called “charity”—is that in Christians by which they are adopted members of the divine family, sharers in the love which is God’s very life. Now our focus is upon charity as the principle by which Christians act as children of God. In this respect, charity in the Christian is the first principle of specifically Christian morality. It motivates faith itself, and faith is the fundamental option, the basic human act, of Christian life (24‑D).
The present chapter will concentrate on charity as a principle of Christian morality, while chapter twenty-six will consider how it transforms the modes of responsibility into Christian modes of response.
Charity is the divine love by which a Christian’s life is made the life of a child of God. Charity is not a human act. However, by charity Christians are enabled to cooperate humanly, as Jesus does, in the redemptive work which is accomplished by God’s healing love. Hence, charity requires that for Christians, who are called to redemptive living, the principles of morality based upon human nature as such be specified in accord with the actual condition of human nature fallen and redeemed.