Love: Beginning Thoughts

If 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.

(I Corinthians 13:3, NRSV)

What is this love that Paul is writing about? He’ll list its characteristics in the nine verses following this one – something to go through adjective by adjective. But here are a couple of thoughts for starters:

Love is meaning good things for another and sacrificing to bring those things into reality; it’s not an emotion (like and love are not the same) but a choice to act willingly for the good of another. It’s why loving neighbor and enemy is possible, even when liking them is not.

Love recognizes that people are not means to other ends – this includes ourselves. Jesus said that the scriptures boiled down to two commandments: 1) Love God, and 2) Love Neighbor as Self. Loving our neighbor is recognizing and honoring the sanctity of his or her life. Without this love, we may reduce our neighbor to a tool that helps us or a hindrance that frustrates us. Loving ourself is recognizing and taking responsibility for the sanctity of our own life. Without this love, sacrifice for others reduces us to mere tools for the benefit of others and we gain nothing.

 

Why would some choose not to love neighbor? Fear of sacrifice: not having enough left for self, losing equality with another.

Why would some choose not to love self? Fear of integrity: having more than enough for self and neighbor – claiming equality with another.

Deeper than consciousness is the longing to give love and a willingness to give it sacrificially. (James Loder, The Transforming Moment, Colorado Springs: Helmers & Howard, 1989, p.177)

 

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Johnna

I am a Christian educator and writer.I have worked in churches, denominational offices, and seminaries. I have a PhD in Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary, with a focus on Practical Theology and educating in faith. In 2010, my book, "How the Other Half Lives: the challenges facing clergy spouses and partners," was published by Pilgrim Press. I believe that words can build doorways that lead to encounters with God through the Spirit.

4 thoughts on “Love: Beginning Thoughts”

  1. These are so thoughtful. Funny, in today’s (8/11) reading from C.S. Lewis (“A Year with C.S. Lewis”) from “Mere Christianity” comes this: “Falling in Love”: “What we call ‘being in love’ is a glorious state,and, in several way, good for us. It helps to make us generous and courageous, it opens our eyes not only to the beauty of the beloved but to all beauty, and it subordinates (especially at first) our merely animal sexuality; in that sense, love is the great conqueror of lust. No one in his senses would deny that being in love is far better than common sexuality or cold self-centeredness…Being in love is a good thing, but it is not the best thing. There are many things below it, but there are also things above it. You cannot make it the basis of a whole life. It is a noble feeling, but it is still a feeling. Now no feeling can be relied on to last in its full intensity, or even to last at all. Knowledge can last, habits can last,; but feelings come and go. And in fact, whatever people say, the state of ‘being in love’ usually does not last.”

  2. just saw this:
    Even after all this time the sun
    never says to the earth, “you owe me.”
    Look what happens with a love
    like that.
    It lights up the whole sky.
    —HAFIZ
    why would someone choose not to love a neighbor, indeed.

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