You reply, “Hold on a minute!” That is nonsense, you’ve just used it”. Yes, I know, but I wanted to catch your attention and arouse your curiosity. The word L.O.V.E. like the word G.O.D. refers to a mystery which our human language is not able to fully define. Anne Lamott, a popular writer, illustrates how the words Help, Thanks and Wow express volumes of explosive meaning beyond the exclamation. Our vocabulary is often totally inadequate to describe our experience.
The scientist cannot put love under the microscope or capture it a test tube, the physicist with analysis and formula is as puzzled by the substance love as he is by the substance of matter, the philosopher knows its value but it goes beyond his intellect, the neuro surgeon can identify the area of the brain from which the love emotion emanates, but knows it cannot be dissected, the psychologist and writer while using one definition, are aware of its total insufficiency to define the whole – much as a recipe does not define the cake!
We can feel love, recognize it, experience it, fall into it, show it, but we cannot define it. The Bible declares God is Love and loves the world. It elevates love as the highest quality of human nature. Christianity teaches Jesus was the incarnation of God demonstrating by his life and death the nature and limitless dimensions of God’s love. Jesus never asked anyone to love him, or worship him, he invited them to follow him. He reminded them the greatest commandment was ‘To love God and their neighbour as themselves’. He told the disciples to love one another ‘as he had loved them’. He did ask Peter ‘Do you love me?’ And he commented on the love shown to him by a woman of low reputation. He also told stories about love, but he never attempted to define it. His life itself was a living demonstration of love which defies definition.
Paul struggled to define it 1.Cor.13, and concluded by saying love was the greatest virtue of all and would never fail. He fervently prayed his readers would be rooted in love, grow in love and be grasped by the height and depth of Christ’s love. Love may be used as a noun, it is primarily a verb of immeasurable proportions, capabilities and depth of meaning. ‘Love is a verb – personal, relational, comprehensive….the primary verb in our Scriptures’ (Eugene Peterson). When we say, or hear, “I love you!” the meaning goes beyond words. It is like trying to grasp mercury, or capture sunshine in a bottle.
Yet love is something we all long for and desperately need if we are to live a wholesome life. We look for it from childhood, through adolescence to adulthood. To be denied love is to feel rejected, unwanted, despised, unworthy. If I feel worthless, I begin to feel unlovable and as long as I feel unlovable I will never be able to find love, know love or give love.
Here’s the news I want you to hear; because God is love, all he made he made with love and for love and that includes you. Your being here is an expression of his love. Love is the supreme goal. Love is your true, authentic self. You are lovable – no matter what image the mirror reflects, or result the bathroom scales show, or the critical opinions about you. God’s all inclusive, non-discriminatory, unconditional love embraces you – as you are!
Do not be deceived by the cheap, casual misuses of the word. Advertisements employ it to appeal to your emotions. Some modern songs and stories of a sexual, erotic nature romanticize and sabotage the word. Romance is fleeting. Real love lasts forever.
When at an ordination service an elderly minister was asked “What message did he have for those newly ordained?” He replied, “Love your people!” and we all knew what he meant. He was echoing the words of Jesus. I end with a quote from Fr. Richard Rohr ‘If your only goal is love there is no such thing as failure’. If only our politicians, artists, designers, economists, industrialists and developers; the leaders at UNO, DAVOS, and ECU, the national leaders in Israel, Iran and Africa and the world leaders in Beijing, Moscow, London and Washington would be awakened to this – what changes the world would see. Let us pray the sovereign rule of God’s love will prevail.