It seemed appropriate on this, Valentines Day, to reflect on the nature of Love.
In Christian Scripture, the Apostle Paul’s First Epistle to Corinthians (chapter 13) is known as the “Love Chapter.” I quote it in full here…
1If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant 5or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. 7It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. 9For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; 10but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. 11When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. 12For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.
The thing I observe about Paul’s eloquent prose is that it talks about how Love is at the core of the Christian message. Without it, says Paul, Christianity is nothing, and our words meaningless.
In fact, in reflecting upon the Gospels I do not recall a single instance where Jesus limits the ways in which we are encouraged (or allowed) to love others. Instead, like Paul, Jesus focuses us on the importance and centrality of Love, often being an example to us of how to love others, and how our love for the other must be grounded in our Love of God.
I remember the first time I saw a young couple passionately kissing, when I was an early teen, I think. It was a new thing for me – an unfamiliar sight, something I was not comfortable with, something that unnerved me more than a little bit. I remember thinking “Ewwww!” … I’m sure most of us have had similar experiences!
Continue reading “The Nature of Love”