By guest blogger: Michael Anderson
Growing up, I collected trinkets. One of my favorites was a miniature Eiffel Tower key chain. I can’t say why but for some reason that key chain was very important to me. I had a habit of frequently checking on it just to be sure it was where I had left it. Years later, I thought of that key chain with amusement as I stood before the real Eiffel Tower in all it’s glory, it left me breathless in a way my key chain never could. In relation to the real thing, my small little trinket was just that, a small little trinket, it was utterly inadequate.
The world makes much of love. However with all that focus the world’s concept of love is utterly inadequate when compared with biblical love. There are two aspects of love I wish to point out. This week I will highlight the world’s definition of love. Next week I will highlight another aspect. The world defines love as a feeling of fondness. This feeling of fondness is an involuntary action. We often hear that so and so is falling in or out of love. We hear “you can’t choose who you love”. We get the sense that whether one loves another is completely out of their control. In contrast, the biblical view says that when we love someone, we desire their good.
In Matthew 19:19 I am told to love my neighbor as myself. So how do I love myself? Well I certainly don’t always have feelings of fondness toward myself. In fact, there are aspects of myself that I am not fond of at all. But does this mean I do not love myself? Absolutely not. It is precisely because I love myself that I don’t feel fond of my sinful aspects. If it turns out I am a wicked person, then loving myself means that I should dislike my wickedness and take steps to change it, because, in loving myself, I desire what is best for myself. And if I am to love my neighbor as myself, then I am desiring their good as well. I am called to love them even if I don’t have fond feelings toward them.
In one of the greatest passages on love, Paul begins his positive description by saying “Love is patient” (1 Cor 13:4). That is, love is long suffering. When our brother lets us down, when our husband is spiteful, when our friend acts cruelly toward us it becomes very difficult (some may say impossible) to have fond feelings toward them. Yet Paul says we are to be long suffering in our love. Even when my neighbor harms me, I am to desire his good, even when my spouse lashes out at me I am to desire her good, even when my children disappoint me, I am to desire their good. If the world is right about love, the moment long suffering is required, love goes out the window. But thanks be to God that through the Holy Spirit by Christ’s example we can have a much deeper love, a love that endures. The kind of love by which and for which men do heroic deeds.