8 “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” ~ 1 John 4:8
From the start to the end of the Holy Bible, example after example, story after story, we read about a God who loves His creations so much that he allowed His only Son to become human, to live and die and to spread His divine word. Every story was filled with imperfect people who all sinned greatly and all of whom God loved. We read about the dysfunctional psyche of people who prayed and then committed horrible acts against their brothers and all of whom God loved. We take great care to make villains of those we do not understand and in this we close off the possibility to think that perhaps even those we do not like God stills loves. The Holy Bible is filled with emotion the strongest of which is love. I find it nearly impossible to tell the stories of the Bible without finding Gods divine love mixed in some where, even in those moments man has felt Gods wrath. Therefore, in 1 John 4:8 we are told who God is, and if you know Him you will know love because God is love. If you take away anything about the message of God you have to be left with the one single fact staring you in the face, that if you have ever been loved, felt loved, been in love, or been surround with love then odds are you have felt God moving mountains in your life. I write this with all sincerity that in all the troubles I have gotten myself into and all the problems that found me without my help God has never let me down and I have always been surrounded by loving people be them family or friends, and in all this drama I can honestly say I was also loved. Because of this I am aware of God moving the mountains in my life and within that knowledge I know God also loves me as much as He loves His only son Jesus, King David, Moses, Abraham, Isaac, and all the other people who lived before me and will live after me. God fulfills His devotional cup of love to every single human being that has ever lived on a daily bases. God’s love for us is “accomplished” every night, every morning, for every day of your life!
New Year Challenge: Write down every time you have ever felt loved and some obstacle has been moved for you.
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In this first installment we will explore man’s definition of love, and in that the two all-consuming passions that utterly take us over and blind our reason forcing us to do both heroic and barbaric things to others depending on whether we feel love or hate for them. In reality there is a very fine line between love and hate and in our brain there is virtually no difference between them. That I know is a shocking statement in and of itself, but never the less this strange and scary construct has been scientifically proven to be true. But before we go there let’s begin with scripture and then apply man’s definitions we have created for these two all-consuming emotions. Let’s examine them biblically first then move into science.
8 “Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; 9 not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.” ~ 1 Peter 3:8-9
The Perfect Example of Love
The simple message carried throughout the Middle East and into Europe in the decades after the death of Christ by His disciples was a very basic one, “Love one another.” The absolute “Love” of God or “Agape Love” was the example and is today the hardest to achieve. I have to think that God would not have shown us such a perfect love if we as mortals could not attain it and in that we look to Jesus who throughout all the hateful things others did to him and others he loved never once acted out with anything in his heart other than this agape love of Gods. So with that said we can extrapolate this purest of all love is attainable and should be our starting point in our search for the true definition of what Jesus really meant by;
34 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” ~ John 13:34
It has been long debated what love is, how we should love, what love looks like, how to handle heartbreak, and the strong emotion love overwhelms us with. We have undoubtedly struggled with this concept we call love and in our rational mind love makes us do things which makes no sense to our personal well-being but rather fulfills a basic need all people are born with from the start. This struggle all people contend with in both their personal and professional lives is further complicated with our struggle to understand an equally overwhelming emotion known as hate. Hate presents the same questions as does love and it appears as strongly in our hearts as does love. One could even argue that hate is loves evil twin who twists loves goodness into a pool of unrecognizable film of darkness. Therefore, love is an emotion which is equal to hate, and the line which divides them is much thinner than we could have ever imagined. It boggles the mind how love could be at the root of a hateful act, and vice-versa, how hate could ever be linked to love. In an attempt to explore this paradox we must first start with the modern definition of love;
Love is defined as –
A profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.
A feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend.
Sexual passion or desire.
A person toward whom love is felt; beloved person; sweetheart.
(Used in direct address as a term of endearment, affection, or the like): Would you like to see a movie, love?
Each of the seven definitions covers a huge realm of emotions, feelings, and actions that are linked to other emotions that help to build this intense feeling of love. An example of this is found in the first definition: a profoundly “tender” – (the word “tender” is different than the word love and is uniquely described as being: weak, immature, easily moved, soft, young, delicate, not strong or hardy, and or gentle. ~ http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/tender ). This word “tender” must then be viewed as nothing more than a supporting feeling of love linked in our actions for or against others while always playing a minor role in the background.
Example: I can argue in a “tender” way and thus be perceived as not being strong or weak on the argument. I can console another person “tenderly”, and thus be perceived as being soft and delicate. I can have a crush on another person and thus be perceived as being young or immature in my actions towards them, even biased when compared to others. None of which equals the emotion of love, but are qualities found in love. I could easily argue with my girlfriend or wife in a tender way so as not to hurt their feelings, I could console them softly, and act childish in my actions in private and when defending them become very bias because of my love for her. This extends to our children and other family members. We say this is love but in reality it is the expression of love in its weakest or mildest form.
So being “tender” is the first act of showing a growing emotion for another person and consequently the step to becoming vulnerable and complete exposed. It is proceeded by the second definition of love: a feeling of warm personal attachment – (here again we now are part of something bigger than ourselves and this most basic of emotions fulfills a primal need programmed into every person on earth by our creator – the need to belong. ~ http://listeningfaithfullyblog.com/2009/04/18/reflections-1-a-real-relationship-with-god-relationships-series/ )
In this first ever blog posting of Listening Faithfully I try to point out how we are hot-wired from the start by God in order that these emotions should guide us to serve our Lord emphatically. However, the love that manipulates our choices and decisions are profoundly linked to first becoming willingly subdued to the strong over powering emotion of love. Therefore, the first sign of this would be to do something for someone else that in reality you would not have otherwise done and in this your actions are “tender”, others may perceive you as being silly or weak and even soft. This perception can be both good and bad and carry with it a diverse volume of consequences, both unintended and intended.
Example: The irrational act of giving flowers or presents to a person you’re infatuated with without knowing their true feelings for you first – spending money you probably should have kept – defending a person even if it puts you in a weaker position with others – and my personal favorite, the games we play with ourselves when trying to justify these actions either to ourselves or others who have called us out on it. However intense the act of being “tender” is in our own mind we are in reality sending signals out to the world like a probe in search of love – to test if this new connection will fulfill our most basic needs of belonging.
The Evolution of Love
Again, in all of this love is becoming stronger, our actions more manipulated, our ability to reason is more compromised, and this wonderful all-consuming emotion drives further into our heart and mind as it progresses into the next more powerful definition of love – that being: sexual passion or desire. In this stage of love we as human-beings are able to express the deepest of emotions – the power to share without fear of being compromised – the need of confession is realized as is the bond between two people is thus born into it’s infancy not unlike an impenetrable bridge made of iron and concrete. Sadly many people confuse the pleasures of this stage of love with the act of having sex which is a primal effort to pass ones genes on so as to insure the survival of one’s own lineage. In this confusion of feelings love becomes the act of having sex rather than the tenderness of giving flowers, or the soft manner we hold each other’s hand, or even the ability to argue softly with love in our voices. These pleasures are then lost as our bodies begin to crave carnal pleasure and our mind and emotions become detached from the true purposes of love. Therefore, what some would call love is in reality a sin and an abomination in the eyes of God. For no other reason is there so many divorces and children born out of wedlock. For no other reason is there the crimes of passion we see played out nightly in the news, and the broken hearts of children who are left wondering why their parents are absent in their lives. ~ For a deeper explanation Click Here
On the other hand when these emotions are handled in a mature responsible way with dignity and respect do we see the miracle of God in the faces of our children, is there the foundations drilled deep that support a whole productive and balanced family unit, and in this do we see couples love and honor each other until death do they part. But even this outcome is dependent fully on the trick of our minds and emotions that love weaves that allows us to do things we would not otherwise do with not clear benefits to ourselves but yet greatly benefits others around us. In this more complete definition offered by the bible do we find the root of love and also it evil twin – that of hate.
With that firmly rooted in your mind, I am always called back to the biblical definition of love – a definition where love is defined in a broader and more diverse way; one that goes far beyond the online dictionaries we have at our fingertips today and which I have quoted from in this posting.
“4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails.” ~ 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
With this universal standard we can begin to understand what love really is and how powerful it can be. We begin to fully view the greatest gift of all and how it manipulates our thinking, alters our actions, and provokes both heroic and barbaric deeds. We literally scratch the surface of this gift given to us by God and yet just start to uncover the deepest consequences it holds for all man-kind.
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Dr. Kallay was my boss and God Mother at Ascension Catholic School and she has recently retired due to health issues. I am sharing the video I made on behalf of the Ascension Community to Honor her 11 years of service. CLICK HERE