We have spoken about the love of God for us (See our blog “The Father’s Love”) and our difficulty in feeling it in our lives, since the human expression of love in all its forms is a shadow of His love. God’s love is absolute, transcendent, unified, the ultimate source of all love; it is pure, enduring and everlasting, extravagant and unconditional. Ours is not.
We will never fully experience this love in its truest form until we are united with Him in eternity. We can, however, hope to experience something of it through our understanding of the Cross of Jesus and what he accomplished in that act and our share in His Holy Spirit present to us on earth.
Let us first consider what the dictionary tells us love is: Fondness, charity, an affection of the mind caused by that which delights, strong liking, devoted attachment to one of the opposite sex, sexual attachment, a love affair… and so on. It appears that the compliers are merely putting in the contemporary usage of the word. But they are failing in that they appear to believe love is received only and not given.
And that’s the problem!
Yet because God is a God of love, and He created man with the ability to love in its purest sense, then we must be capable of loving. So what is the problem in human love?
But perhaps what is most tangible to us in our experience is how we “perceive” the love we receive from other people. And the first way is by the words that are used to speak it out. For example “I love you” can be said in a variety of ways, to be interpreted by the tone of voice, the body language – the way we look at one another, the attitude of the face and hands, etc. It needs to be contained in tenderness of voice, compassion in the eyes, and so on.
And for love to be recognised as being true it has to be followed by action. We heard of a man whose wife had Alzheimer’s living in a specialist home. Even though she hadn’t recognised him for years he still visited her every day, because he continued to love her. Another example is the love of a mother for her child, and the degree to which she will put herself out for that child, even to the point of physical danger.
God has given us a litmus test for love in His word: “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.” 1 John 4 v 18. Love draws together and unites – lack of it separates and disintegrates. When we love we create, heal and release in those around us, with our spouse and children, a power and meaning that never fails. Love is only expressed through and to a person. It is not love unless it goes further than skin deep, permeating mind, soul and spirit as well as body, for the well-being of the beloved. It is more than physical. It is recognised by the spirit. If it does not spring out of the heart and out of the spirit it is not love. It will be recognised by its fruits. According to St Paul: “Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, nor self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” 1 Cor 14, v 4-8.
Human love is possible only by grace – God’s unmerited favour. Human love – like God’s – is freely given: it cannot be demanded. Without that grace the ego is in command, and love can not be demanded by a person’s ego. The ego is monumentally self-centred and shows itself in actions that are focused towards ego-advantage, emotional neediness or addictive clinging or any unhealthy attachment.
Ego is the complete antithesis to love.