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Saturday, 14 March 2015

What is love?

According to the songwriter, "Love is a many-splendoured thing"; "the April rose that only grows in the early Spring.  It's "nature's way of giving a reason to be living; the golden crown that makes a man a king"!

One of the best video-tapes (remember them?) that I used in school lessons, was about love.  I would sometimes give advance warning of that showing - it did tend to whet the appetite of certain members of any class!   Of course, my pupils had their own ideas as to what defined 'love'.  They tended to range from those with a definite sexual connotation (perhaps with the idea of 'shocking' the teacher!), to "warm feelings towards another", or "being willing to put others first".

One of our difficulties is that we use the word "love" in so many different ways.   I love a glass of IrnBru, but not in the same way as I love to watch a beautiful sunset.  I love dogs, but not in the same way as I love my friends.  I love my daughters, but not in the same way as I love their mum - my wife.

The Greek language, as many are aware, has no less than four different words, each of which is translated into the English language by the single word "love".  The most important one, and the one used over and over again in the New Testament, is "agape".  This has nothing to do with the soppy, sentimental, psychological sensation of a Mills & Boon novel.  It has nothing to do with my physical appetites.  It has nothing to do with the most amazing earthly vistas.  It doesn't even have anything to do with my human friendships.  I could argue that there is something of it in my relationship with my wife and daughters - but even that would be an insufficient definition.  Perhaps the best way in which I have ever heard it explained was by my former minister, spiritual mentor, and dear friend, the late Rev. George B Duncan of St.George's-Tron Parish Church, in Glasgow.  He defined "agape" as "the minimum of emotion, and the maximum of evaluation."

"Agape" is, simply, the love of Almighty God - shown to sinful people like you, and me!   "God loved the world (i.e. its people) so much that, in the Persona (not a typo!) of the Son, He died on a cross; taking your place, and mine; paying the penalty for our sin; even becoming 'sin' for us; that all who come to Him, in repentance, and faith, may know full and complete forgiveness and, here and now, begin eternal life".  (see John 3:16).

John wrote: "In this is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation (to satisfy the righteous wrath of God the Father against rebellious, sinful, humanity) for our sins.  Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another." (I John 4:10-11).

Another songwriter claimed that "Love makes the world go round".  In that, there may even be an element of truth - as long as we think of the highest form of love, God's love, the love that is His very essence.  May all who read this post experience that love, for themselves. 

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