I have been thinking about “love”. Fancy that. Above all, common in its overarching theme. Everywhere one goes, love is spoken of, realized, discarded, sought, fought for and against. Love, love, love. Unsatisfied theologians have spent many a blue moon developing its simple, specific, broad and complex definition. Love, love, love… .what are you? What are you not?
One speck of humanity discloses its goush and mash of melancholy malarky and sentimental revelations and we all go home a little sick to our stomachs while another groping soul espouses the length and breadth of love’s unfathomable intricacies and presses persistent hearts to dig deeper and climb higher. Perhaps one day we will attain “love”. I wonder that something so concretely and constantly spoken of from Genesis to Revelation could be either base or far removed. It must be here, I think, close to the conscience.
Love must be humanly possible. Oh no! one argues, God is love and therefore, in the flesh, we cannot apprehend its qualities! But then, I am confused… .God, so high in the heavens has formed us and by one breath conceived our human hearts and that one breath perpetuates to this very day the human races upon earth. Yet you say that love is no where near our human conscience?
Love, I argue is so very near. It is so near that it does not necessarily require a definition. So near, that it defies the use of definitions to define it. So integral to our conscience is love, that Christ could say “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39) and expect this to serve as enough Law to produce righteousness in human action. Truly, if I tell you to love this or that person, you know what I mean…
Paul’s ultra-famous “love” passage, known to us as 1 Corinthians 13, serves to stump our revelations of love. Any fantasy that we might caress concerning our own concrete efforts to bring salvation to our neighbor is deemed, just as it is, merely fanciful. We are told to be patient and kind and content and humble and hopeful and forgiving. We are even told to shut our boastful mouths! All of these are fruits of love. Duh. We are told to do all the things we know we ought to do if we mind our conscience. It is neither simple or complex. Neither broad or specific. It is just love - the rendering of right actions towards another speck of humanity like ourselves.
Love, insists Paul, is the purposeful center of our motivations. Everything we do must be out of genuine concern for our fellow humans…. .and I don’t think I have to tell you what that is or what it looks like. You already know. But what I also know is that one may do all the things considered productions of love and yet not possess this purposeful center of love. “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels,” says Paul, this is not a guarantee that I have done so because I love the ears of the hearers. “If I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge,” says Paul, this does not reveal that I use such power to edify those who depend on God’s revelation through me. “If I have all faith, so as to remove mountains,” says Paul, and then I move them and the lame walk and the blind see and they leap with joy, am I a lover of humanity or a peacock reveling in self-glorification?
Yes, love defies our definitions. One would think that healing the lame is a sure sign of great love, yet, it may not be motivated by love at all. We do not even need to be told this. We know. We know love so well that we must justify our choices to withhold it. We must cover our tracks of false motivations when we misuse preconceived fanciful notions. In the end, God knows. He knows what we know. He knows when we are lovers or deceivers with angelic tongues.
What is love? We can’t answer. We just know. And it comes with or without burning sacrifices, mountainous faith and angelic tongues….