What’s love got to do with it…?

I’m not a sentimental man.

I can be emotional, but but that’s a different thing

it means that I know how to express things (or at least I try)

things like love, disappointment, grief, anger,

but I do my very best not to be ruled by those same emotions.

I have conducted weddings and funerals –

two events that call upon different emotional responses-

and I have seen those emotions expressed very well.

There are also times when the emotion takes over, and rules the day;

A very different state of mind.

Of the many emotions that make us human, love is the most often misunderstood.

Love most easily becomes ‘sentimental’

when we look back at what was (or might have been)

when we talk of an ‘old flame’ –

or when we look forward to a new relationship full of possibilities.

The language we use where love is concerned

leads us down a difficult, sometimes dangerous path.

And then Jesus says: “This is my commandment,

that you love one another as I have loved you.”

we hear that commandment differently than it was intended,

because of how we treat the word ‘love’.

Let me say here that I don’t believe God is sentimental either –

and that I believe Jesus was an emotional man – not a sentimental man –

where Jesus is concerned, emotions don’t rule, they serve,

and love is no different

So what do we do with this love that Jesus asks us to share – to abide in?

How can we get our minds around the difference between

Hallmark card love and the

endless, timeless, overwhelming love of God in Christ?

Well, we start with what we know of God.

God who calls the nomad to become a chosen people

God whose stories reach back into our deepest, oldest memories.

God who exists in relationship, all the time –

relationship between and among “Creator-Redeemer-Sustainer”, or “Father- Son – Spirit”

and relationship between and among humanity across history.

God seeks out the lost, and the confident;

the broken and those ignorant of their brokenness;

the weak and the strong – all are targets for God’s attention

and all are recipients of God’s love.

Abide in that love, Jesus says,

as though God’s love were a sea that we swim in –

vast and bottomless.

We sing about the love of God filling us –

but that is the sentimental, self-serving thinking;

God’s love is meant to be the place we inhabit –

it is both inside and out – above and beneath;

it is that unseen support in all we do, and our comfort when we fail.

This is the sense of love that comes from John’s gospel.

Jesus is always teaching – right to the last.

And in John’s gospel his teaching takes on a new urgency,

as though his life and his example were suddenly not enough.

To make the point – to prove the point –

he would remind us, encourage us,

command us

to see the love that filled his life

and to live in the same manner.

Not sappy sweet and sentimental – not heart and flowers love.

This love is hard, and dusty, and reeks of the road.

Love that lives among the poorest of the poor

and survives the extremes of all human emotion.

This love that is our duty

has – in Jesus life – overcome hate and ridicule,

ignorance and apathy.

This love is not merely words or ritual observance

it is daily attention to and acceptance

of God who seeks a relationship – a being together – with us.

This is love as it ought to be:

unconditional, constant,

and so much a part of our every moment,

that we hardly notice it; like air is to breathing.

There is nothing sentimental

in the acceptance of a love like this.

It is the nature of God to love –

it is our nature to seek love.

You might say we were made for one another –

and in fact, we were made for this;

to share in the love which flows always from God,

and to love one another as Christ commands.


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