Sunday, February 26, 2012

What is THIS thing called, Love?

For a moment, forgetting the challenge of reflecting intonation in writing. I attempt to ask, which is the proper question? "What is THIS thing called, Love?" Or, "What is this thing called 'LOVE'?"  I first heard the former question from a comedian pretending to allude to something private. The implication is that it should, of course, be the latter usage that is appropriate.  I still chuckle at the pun. Then again...

When I was in my late teens, I did some not-so-nice things.  In my late-twenties and early-thirties, I heard about Positive Thinking. Now, as a 'certain amount of time has passed,' I fully believe in the Lord.  I believe and trust that scripture is the Word of God as He chose to reveal Himself. I also came to believe that Positive Thinking isn't necessarily obsolete for a Christian.  Consider this...

We are encouraged to engage in a form of 'Positive Thinking' in scripture.  Take the book of Philippians, verse 4:8 (ESV), which says (enumeration mine):
"Finally, brothers,
1) whatever is true,
2) whatever is honorable,
3) whatever is just,
4) whatever is pure,
5) whatever is lovely,
6) whatever is commendable,
7) if there is any excellence,
8) if there is anything worthy of praise,
think about these things."

I must say it sounds lovely (#5) just to be told to think about these things!  Gladly!! You got it! But, as I began to ponder, I find the exercise is not so easy. Rather than immediately dreaming and beaming, I find myself asking:

1) What is true?
2) What is honorable?
3) What is just?
4) What is pure?
5) What is lovely?
6) What is commendable?
7) Is there is any excellence?
8) Is there is anything worthy of praise?

I find, then, that the question that is the subject of this post is, in fact, appropriate after all. "What is THIS thing called, Love?"  I would LOVE to solicit feedback from you the reader before I expound upon my ponderations. Any takers?


cynthia yoder said...

Love is the ultimate positive arena for thought. Or you could say, if you dwell in love, you are not even dwelling in the mind anymore, but in the heart...and that's always a good thing :D.

BTW, Norman Vincent Peale, one of the champions of "positive thinking" (along with Napoleon Hill)was a Christian minister, and offered his ideas as a practical application of Christian theology. So while it's been popularized as secular, it's roots are deeply Christian!

heather said...

In simple terms, and surface terms... Love is what makes your heart smile. Love is what makes you want to go home. Love is the energy that helps you push through that hectic day at work. To go over the simple.... it is the people behind the thoughts that make your heart smile, that make you want to go home at the end of your day, family, children, friends… for me, also - songs that have been put in my heart that I sing throughout my day. To wrap it up in proper terms, God is love. And on my wrist, I have tattooed, a reminder, that even though I am a sinner, he loves me daily. John 3:16. Thankfully he loves me - and because he loves me, he has taught me to love. <3

Anonymous said...

My thoughts.... for what they are worth ;)

I am thankful to say I am still learning every day what LOVE is. To me- how can you define such a concept in human words? The definition comes across loud and clear when I look at the cross. What I read the passage in Philippians, and think on what it means to me- I hear the Lords love telling me NOT to be anxious about ANYTHING- for I am in His hands. How can I tolerate worry--- when it is not any of those things: true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, I can not THINK on fear- because it is NOT loving.

Anonymous said...

Love or the lack thereof is the primary cutting tool that carves out the defining shape of our souls.

Dwight said...

Is God love? Is God's word true? Is it true that Jesus Christ is God's Son? Is it true, as Jesus claims in God's word, that on the day one becomes a believer and is baptized by the Holy Spirit (not by water) and Born Again, that He is in the Father, that the believer is in Him, and that He is in the believer (John 14:20)?

Is it also true that Jesus is the ONLY way? "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)" We know in our heart of hearts that God is love (1 John 4:8). Why do we long and hunger to be loved, yet do not take the time to know Him who loves us? And lastly, is Jesus God?

I find that to truly understand love, I must consider the first meditation --whatever is true-- to discover its source and method. As Heather so aptly concluded: because he loves me, he has taught me to love.

As Pilate asked Jesus, accused of blasphemy, "What is truth?" I am drawn to these verses...
1. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh. (Ecclesiastes 12:12b, toward the summary of Solomon's wisdom)
2. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. (John 17:17, Jesus praying to the Father for His disciples.)

The more I learn about Jesus, the more I realize that He is the manifestation of God's word (John 1:14), and that God's word is truly alive and powerful and able to cut right to my heart (Hebrews 4:12).

I certainly did not start there. After all, there were and are many conflicting sources that claimed to have the answer (leading to success, happiness and inner peace), and I turned to many of them. Books, seers, life coaches, people like Ghandi or Nelson Mandela, churches, religions, philosophies, etc.

After years of diligently searching, and many of these sources falling short of profound and lasting peace for me personally, I decided that I would assume God is not lying to me in His word, as confusing as it was at first, and as harsh as it seemed in some places.

A little while more, and I was absolutely amazed at how many unreasonable forces there were set against my resting in that knowledge. Yet, I persisted in seeking diligently. Lo and behold, my search was rewarded beyond my imagination! I'll never give up now, for in Him my joy is made complete. To live is Christ!

I write these things so that your joy may be made complete, too. Learn of Him, for He is gentle and lowly in heart, and, just as I have, you will find rest for your souls (Matthew 11:28-30). It is probably no accident that I am in your life, just as you are in mine. Let me share with you my story, and you may discover insights into your own story and, ultimately, His story, that you've never imagined. Let us weep together, and then let our weeping turn to laughter!

cynthia said...

Hi Dwight, thanks for sharing your experience. I resonate with Jesus AS love itself; when we ask him to be near, we are opening our hearts to a pure Love, beyond our imagining.

Katherine said...

Dwight, thank you for this post and for listing the criteria for love as taken from the Bible. I am a Unitarian Universalist which means I am interfaith. I'm not solely Christian, though I believe Jesus was an incredibly evolved, spiritual person who was born with a mission to lead us to the higher power, which many people call "God" (as do I because it's convenient). I believe the Bible is a sacred text, just as I believe there are other sacred texts.

Especially over the past few years, I have reconnected with my beliefs about love, mainly agape-- loving thy neighbor which, to me, naturally brings about service. I believe we are all here to make the world a better, more peaceful place, to help each other evolve spiritually and intellectually, and to contribute. This has been my mission.

As someone who has struggled with unhealthy, personal relationships, I have put a lot of effort into developing deep, romantic and intimate love with my husband. This is a different kind of love (though he certainly "qualifies" for agape).

Sometimes it's easier for me to practice agape than it is to understand intimate, long-lasting love that comes with a good marriage, probably because I know how to serve the community but wonder how to connect with him on a more personal level reserved for a spouse. I've had very few good role models, a common malady in our country where rapid consumption moves beyond commodities and into relationships. My journey has been wonderful, challenging and fulfilling, and I see this kind of growth as another sort of mission. Thankfully, I have been blessed with an amazing, dedicated man who has understood and been patient with my shortcomings. One of my biggest challenges has been accepting that I deserve such a man as opposed to deserving an abuser.

Sorry for the long comment, but I've done a lot of thinking in this area and appreciate the chance to communicate it.

Dwight said...

Since many people commented about the supremacy of love, I wish to back that up with profound scripture, which may, at least in part, be very familiar to you. (This is from a letter of Paul to the saints of Corinth.)

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. (1 Corinthians 13:1-8)

Love never ends. I wish I could truthfully say, "Dwight is patient and kind; Dwight does not envy or boast; he is not arrogant." But, it would take more than positive thinking to accomplish that purely. But, as my belief is in Christ, I can say quite confidently that, "Jesus is patient and kind; Jesus does not envy or boast; He is not arrogant." Thank God love prevails and doesn't depend upon me! Yet, He welcomes me to be part of it, and empowers me with His spirit! He does not command me to do something, such as love my neighbor as myself, without empowering me to live it.