What is love?
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” John 14:15
Jesus, if we look at the totality of the Gospels, gave a lot of “instructions.” But I am not sure he ever called anything a “commandment,” per se, save His command to love. “God is love” is thrown around a lot and we may feel that it has grown into a cliché of sorts, a slogan that is nice but devoid of real meaning. What is love, after all, other than a four-letter word we use, perhaps, far more than we really intend to…far more than we really mean? Well, it always helps me to ask the question, “Why would we say that God – or Jesus, if you prefer – is love? What is love in the eyes of Almighty God?
For me God’s love is the way I have come to make sense of the world; imperfectly, yes, but the universe, my faith, my church, my family, my life makes no sense without the love of God. God’s love means that we are created in the image of God’s love and that a rapturously beautiful planet and universe were made by a God who loves. I look at my wife, my children, my friends, and my favorite parts of the created world (trees, birds, mountains, lakes and rivers, and the stone from which churches are built – see my prejudices oozing forth😉) and I cannot escape the imprint of God’s overwhelming love. God’s love, sometimes painful and too powerful to bear, emanates from Holy Scripture, from the story of God with us, His children. God’s love comes hurtling at us with the force of all creation, too, as He offers Himself to us, walks with us, dies for us, and redeems us with His blessed and perfect love in Jesus, the Christ.
God’s loving Spirit guides and transforms us into people who are capable of acts of great love and humility, incredible sacrifice and generosity. And, yet, in the absence of great love, we can act with amazing disregard for each other driven, in love’s absence, to violence, greed, strained relationships, and brooding isolation. We perish without love; a fact Jesus knew all too well. Jesus exhorts us to love Him knowing that, as we love our Savior with deep, hopeful love, He returns us to who God always meant us to be: people of love that transform the world God has made into a place of love. If we love Jesus, we cannot help but love each other and, when we love God in Christ, we will keep His commandments which are, by the way, to love.