Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Love is a Verb, or is it?

My arch rival and nemesis ‘master Eddie’ gives us his meanderings on the nature of love & sentiment within the context of ‘doing’. While not being a full discussion, he does probe deep into the mysteries of its beauty and power and probes some interesting questions.
Is love an action? Is it something we do to another person?
In my journal, I have written the following and I quote it to show that this is not based on academic reflection but on the mere fact that it is how I have conveyed my feelings in my journal:

I was listening to Michael Ramsden today and he tells the story of being in a cell group with his wife and 12 Teenage girls. The topic of discussion was “what is Love?” In a society where people fall in love, get together or get married and then fall out of love and then split or get divorced, is the pain and hassle really worth it? “What is love?” Michael quivered. Michael got all the girls to close their eyes and think about someone special, a boy, walking up to them at school or work and in a soft gentle voice saying: “I love you.” “How does that make you feel”, Michael asked. Smiles lit up the room. Now imagine the next day you see that same boy walking up to another girl and saying: “I love you.” Michael again asked: “How does that make you feel?” Smiles disappeared. Michael then went on to explain that the concept of “LOVE” is meaningless without the framework of exclusivity and commitment. We don’t want to share our love and we want love to be constant. When someone loves us, that love is focussed and consistent. One day I was sitting in a room on a bed. I was listening to a song by David Grey entitled “Sail Away With Me”. I was overwhelmed with exclusivity and commitment, with heart-felt passion for one person. She was standing in front of me, and with tears in my eyes I told her something that would change my life forever. I told her that I loved her and that I would always love her. The power and authenticity that pervaded that utterance still haunts me to this day.

But this begs the question, is love merely a feeling, a sentiment as Eddie probes? Is love something you do? Or is it a mystical combination of many elements? I would argue that love is an interaction between two hearts in the deep places of our beings, where we communicate via means of touch, gifts, time, words and acts that the well-being of the other person involved is important and that their ecstasy is imperative. Love is a beautiful, authentic and meaningful connecting between lives. Love is sacred.
In a culture plagued by reckless freedom [actually anarchy because freedom is a moral concept and we are spirally towards an amoral society] we have lost the sense of honour and sacredness of relationships. We too easily give our acquaintances the keys to our most tender spots. They then get used and abused in more than inappropriate ways. My Master notes that we are to do unto others as we would want done to ourselves. Ergo: do we want respect? Do we want kindness? Do we want pure and holy relationships? If so, then that is what we must give to others. Wisdom laments that people should guard their inner-selves as it is the well-spring {source} of living. If you’re not careful and selective about what goes in, you may be exposed to contamination from the outside. Love is sacred and thus it should be treated as such!
The Moulin Rouge venerates that “the greatest thing you’ll ever learn, is how to love, and be loved in return.” Having had my soul awakened once again to this reality, I heartily concur!
But this merely begs the pivotal question of where does “love” come from? I again concur with my nemesis when he looks to YHWH for the foundation and model of love. John was right, “GOD IS LOVE” and that simple but overwhelming fact should change, does change, is changing reality as we know and understand it. R. Horsley in his book “Jesus and the Spiral of Violence” notes that:

The “Kingdom” involves not a blissful rest in static beatitude, but social interaction such as feasting. Similarly, the saving activity of GOD does indeed bring wholeness to individual persons; but this does not stand in contrast to the restoration of society. Personal wholeness is integrally involved with the renewal of social life, apparently even with certain transformations in the patterns of political-religious life.

This is merely the KING of LOVE working LOVE out in all inter-personal encounters. Jesus had much to say on the topic of love, and thus his kingdom dynamic should be understood within the broad framework of this view of YHWH. The fundamental reality of the gospel is not based on an Individual-God abstraction of God's love and plan for me, myself and I, but rather on the reality of experiencing and seeing and knowing love in the face of an Other. God comes to us in a relational way, through parents, friends, siblings or a stranger and confronts us with unimaginable kindness and care. I am yet to find a single verse which categorically states: “God loves you.” Instead, what we have in scripture is a series of relational encounters that demonstrate and tell the story of God’s embarrassingly faithful care, concern and commitment for humanity.
Which brings us full circle, having skipped a series of important excurses on other fundamental issues, to the foundation of love: GOD. Without GOD I want to suggest humanity cannot truly know love and without love humanity cannot truly know GOD [1 John 4:7-9]. Jesus "taught" this love because first of all he "wrought" this love: in other words, those around Jesus learned God's love by being loved by Jesus and by being invited to sit at his table and by being challenged by his words and by being overwhelmed by his entire life (birth to ascension and intercession). Jesus is GOD’s LOVE to humanity in a concrete expression that again tells God’s story of care, concern and commitment for people!
Without God, Shakespeare’s Macbeth may have got it right, namely, that life is but “A tale told by an idiot, filled with sound and fury, signifying nothing.” But with GOD, life is a beautiful story of God, with God and through God of sharing and ecstasy that will never end, but just get bigger & better.

No comments: