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Thursday, 13 November 2014

What Is Love?

I realise this will be my third blog post in three days, however since I haven't been doing anything but work and lazing around the house I have had plenty of time to reflect on various ideas running through my mind. Not to mention that right at this present time the cricket is slowing to a lull...

I discussed faith in my first post and yesterday I discussed seeking his kingdom and righteousness first, a concept that ties into both faith and hope. Well today I want to look at love, the third part of that 'trinity'.

1 Corinthians 13: 4- 13 (NIV)
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

The most important part of this entire chapter on love is the point that Paul makes multiple times: without love we are nothing. As Colossians 3:14 says "But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection." (NKJV) Other translations say "which binds them all together in perfect unity."

The Bible clarifies this further in 1 John 4:8 when it says "Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love." So of course that in itself explains why love links everything together perfectly - why it unifies: because it is a part of God's very nature to bind everything together and he is love. It also explains why the greatest of the things that remain is love: it is part of all that God is.

Which leads to the question that a lot of people have: why does love begin so sporadically at times and why can we as humans be so controlled by our emotional love? That's because we cannot fully know love at the moment and as C.S. Lewis explains rationally and carefully in The Four Loves, human love is limited (much as our faith is naturally limited at times) by what we see and feel. You have philia, storge, eros and finally agape. Philia is the love between friends, storge is affectionate love as between family members, eros is romantic love and agape is the most powerful love of all: unconditional love.

Aside from unconditional love the other three forms of love are mere shadows of what God's love is. We as people are bound by our passions - our desires, needs, wants, attachments etc. - but God is not a man and while he is passionate about us, he is not controlled by passion as we are. And therefore his love can be limitless, unconditional and freely given not in a fit of passion or desire as a romantic falls in love but of choice.

It is this idea of choice that links together the three different points I've made across my blog posts. To truly step out in active faith, then you have to make the choice to trust God with everything - believing that he chooses the best for you. To trust God more and more you need to seek him and his righteousness first - to know him not just mentally but deep within, with all you are. And as you seek him first it is his love that helps you to really know who he is. And it is his unconditional love that helps our conditional love to become truly powerful - that binds our affection, friendships and romantic endeavors together with him.

Essentially it's all about getting to know him more as God and putting him in the center as he needs to be! It's a process of active faith and trusting in his love, but it gives you such security and peace in the end...