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Love – What is love?

February 14, 2015

‘I love you’ – it trips off the tongue so easily, but do I really mean it? What is love?

‘I love you’ – Such a short phrase but one packed with so much meaning. What does it mean? Who is it addressed to? Who is it from?

‘I love you’ – For human beings that phrase can be the turning point from a relationship to the relationship. ‘Love’ is such a powerful word, one used well and one abused.

‘Love’ can mean despite my interests I want the very best for you – unconditionally, without limits and forever.

‘Love’ can also mean, whatever your best interests, I want to control you and possess you for myself – unconditionally, without limits and forever.

‘Love’ is such a powerful concept that we human beings can’t really be trusted with it. Not on our own. Being imperfect I know that I layer imperfect intentions into that perfect ‘Love’.

‘Love’, true love is at the heart of all things. The central nature of all creation. ‘God is love, and those who live in love, live in God and God lives in them’ (1 John 4.16). I know this to be true but I also know that despite my best efforts my love is not so great. My love is finite and the more I experience God the more finite I realise my love to be. So much so that I no longer trust my capacity to love. I cannot trust my human ability to love, it is far too caught up with ifs and buts: ‘I will love you unconditionally, unless you… say this, do that, believe that!’ then all deals are off.

I find that my human love, no matter how passionate I can be, is more of a contract than anything else. No matter how hard I try, I keep putting limits on my love. I can love kittens but not cockroaches… motorbikes but not scooters… and so on.

To learn to love I need to turn to God. I have found that it is only in the presence of the Spirit that I truly learn what unconditional love really is. It is only in the presence of the Spirit that I really become able to love, where my ‘love’ becomes true ‘Love’, the sort of love that I read about in 1 Corinthians 13:

  • ‘Love’ that is patient and kind (I’m naturally so impatient and my kindness is limited).

  • ‘Love’ that is never jealous or boastful – It is only in Christ that I can even start to let go of jealousy. It is only in the Spirit’s power that I truly know that all is from God, and there is absolutely nothing for me to boast about.

  • ‘Love’ that is not proud or rude – Pride creeps in so subtly that I need the bright light of the Spirit to search it out and wither it away. Rudeness, well rudeness comes out of not valuing people and it is only in the Spirit that I can ever hope to see Christ in all people and value them as I should.

  • ‘Love’ that isn’t selfish or quick tempered. I’m OK with these until I’m tired or stressed, then I naturally turn into a little child and scream, “I want!” and “mine!” and lose my temper when I don’t get my own way. When I am tired and weak then it is only Christ that can save me from myself.

  • ‘Love’ that keeps no record of wrongs. It is only in the power of the Spirit that I can ever truly forgive and forget.

Then I turned back to the Bible again and found, ‘ There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear’ (1 John 4.18). I am afraid of so many things; of my own shadow sometimes. But when I wake up afraid I’ve found that if I ask the Spirit to pour divine love onto my fears, they crumble away. It is as though they were scary figures made of salt, and the water of the Spirit is washing them away.

It is this kind of love, this true love, that I so desperately need. It is this true love that this world so desperately needs. Without a truly selfless love, a truly giving love that keeps no record of wrongs, there can be no true forgiveness, no reconciliation, no peace and ultimately no hope. Without the true love that never fails then every effort is doomed to failure.

Without true Love I too am doomed to fear and failure, sadness and loss. With Love all is healed, transformed and beautiful.

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