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Friday, April 23, 2010

What in the World is Love, Anyway?

“What is love, anyway... does anybody love anybody anyway.”

~Howard Jones, What is Love (1984).

Set a task: discuss love. No instruments of help, no reference material whatsoever. Can the average person describe love, 1 Corinthians 13 style, and get it almost just about right? Love, for starters, is a broad and abstract concept enshrined at its most fundamental as the selfless act. That’s a bold front. Can that hugely broad thing of love be caged by that simple three-worded concept?

If we think of Paul’s charge to the Corinthians as in having them taste, touch and smell love, through the rich imagery of word pictures he uses, we too can taste, touch and smell love. It’s not some wishy-washy thing we go all gooey over. It’s a tangible and raw definable act resplendent in the blessing of another, to the exception of ourselves.

Yet, would this love acceptably meet us, ourselves, blessing occasionally the vendor? Most certainly, and perhaps this is the point; that the person most apt at loving (recalling it’s selflessly delivered) is the person who has bestowed upon themselves, love.

What is love if not an act above and beyond all acts? An act reliant on nothing but the pure and holy aversion to selfishness, it could easily be. But, surely it’s more positive than that. Patient it is; enduringly patient. Kind, generous, not boastful. We know from Eugene Peterson’s, The Message, that love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. Love holds its things lightly; not so its rank opposite number, fear. Fear grabs, grasps, holds, squeezes tightly, suffocates. Not love.

Love is:

è Tangible.

è Tickles and laughter.

è Cooking dinner, doing the dishes, or both!

è Helping each other out.

è Playing and spending time together.

è Hugs and kisses.

è Foot and back massages.

è Unexpected gifts.

è Sitting quietly together.

Equally, we think of love in a whole myriad of colluding ways. No matter, it’s truly about what we do for the other people in our lives that characterises our love... not only now, but always!

Love is a theme, a practice, a divine privilege and right; a challenge to each one of us. Go on in deeds of love as the day unfolds, and we will find the inevitable bindings of love coming back to us in unforeseen ways we’d never imagined. It begins with us!

© 2009, 2010 S. J. Wickham.


Sarah J. Wickham, Love is (Perth, Australia: SJW Especially for you, 2008). This was my Christmas gift, a one-off photo book by my wife, dedicated to me and inspired by 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.

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