Today I’m going to bounce around a bit. The topic is unconditional love, and though we often talk about it, we seldom practice it. It’s hard, we are immersed in a world of quid pro quo, expecting something in return from those we love appears natural. But that is not what love is about.
First Corinthians chapter 13 is often recited at weddings. It speaks of the attributes of love, verses 4 through 7 are familiar “4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things”. But the part that I want to explore today is the first three verses, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.”
Love happens. It is not a product that you can create or earn. It is it’s own “reward”. I see it as a gift from God. God loves us unconditionally, and as we know God, we know love. It still isn’t easy. I still find myself expecting something in return for love at times, but as Tina Turner said “What’s love, but a second hand emotion”. My love is within me, it does not compel another to reciprocate in any way, and certainly not in a way I desire. My second wife would often say “but I cleaned the kitchen for you”, when what I had wanted had nothing to do with the kitchen. I don’t know if she did what she did as an expression of love or payment of a debt. It doesn’t matter. I claimed to love her, yet I expected a quid pro quo on my terms.
Jumping to a section of the fourth chapter of First John, “7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another12 No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us“.
Love is the manifestation of God within us. It may be, if there is a measure, the measure of our acceptance of God’s presence with us. Are we merely clanging cymbals, speaking of love but not knowing it? Without love we are nothing, we can choose to define love however we wish, but saying it doesn’t make it so. You have to do it. Love one another, without expectation, without condition, and you will know love. You will find what you are seeking, the fulfillment you dreamed of, by knowing love.
One last bounce, to the fifth chapter of Romans, which speaks to the unconditional nature of God’s love. The theme is repeated throughout the chapter, I’m fond of the eight verse “8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”.
Do not let the evil in the world stand in the way of love. It’s not easy, if it was easy everyone would do it. But it’s certainly worth it.