Thursday, June 16, 2005

Thinking about love

Been thinking about love a bit lately, not least because im getting married in 24 days! But aside from that, last night at Access (my cell group) we discussed love and it has got my mind wandering...

In a discussion about love, it was once asked, 'What good is mere sentiment if it does not move one to serve another?'

This question assumes two things and implies another. Firstly, it assumes that love involves sentiment (although the statement could be percieved as downplaying the aspect of sentiment). That is, it is an emotional inolvement with something or someone. The rhetorical force of the question implies that love is no 'good' (it has no positive moral value and is of no use to anyone) unless it involves action. The character of this action rests upon the second assumption, that it must take the shape of 'service' to the one felt for. If love is to be truly love, if it is to be worth anything, then it must be all the above.

But is this so? Certainly most people would affirm that love involves sentiment, but can love be love without it? Can action alone be considered love? And if so, what is the normative characteristic by which an action can be considered love? The utterer of the above statement (if he would affirm love apart from entiment) would say that for an action to be 'loving' it must be an act of 'service'. It must be something beneficial for the one to whom it is done. This i think is true as things go. As Christians with a mandate to seek good for all, we sometimes lack the 'care' for a person but still act for their good. When someone has treated us badly or we just find them offensive for whatever reason, our acts of 'service' toward them is certainly to be considered love.

But can love exist without action? Can sentiment alone, no matter how strong be rightly considered love? The above statement implies that it cannot, that it is incomplete, lacking the aspect that makes it of any 'good'. If love consists of only sentiment, then what good is love to anyone? And I tend to agree.

But what about love that does flow from sentiment, is 'sentiment' really a suitable foundation for action? In acting out of affection for someone, are we not acting for ourselves? Yes, our action will be beneficial for them because we truly do feel for them, however, we do so only because of our feelings. What if they were to fade away? Would we then cease to love them? What if our concern for ourself was stronger than our concern for them? Would we then not assist them?

The question then, is wat should the proper motivation for action be? As I understand things, relationships naturally begin along selfish lines. We begin them (whether they are of a romantic nature or not) because they give us something. This always kick starts things, as a friend of mine Pete said about romance. But if these relationships are to grow to be of real value (in my opinion), then the selfishness with which they started must be relinquished, and a mutual serving must take its place. In a way it is only safe to do so once a relationship is firmly established, once there is a level of trust and a strong bond. Otherwise there is no guarantee that the service will indeed be reciprocal. But this is the goal, this is what love is made a 'full love' is made of, both sentiment and action for the sake of the other.

But I believe that as part of God's 'new creation' we are to operate in a different way. Within the Christian community we are called to follow the example of Jesus Christ, to "lay down our lives for one another" as Jesus "laid down his life for us" (1 John 3.11-24). We to have the same mind as that of Christ, to do nothing out of selfishness but to look to the interests of others (Philippians 2.1-11). Further, we are to live by the rule of love for our neighbor (Luke 10.25-37) and to seek good for even our enemies (Matthew 5.44). This life is truly radical, something that I that I do not think possible without the power of God's Spirit (Romans chs.7-8). Yet we have that Spirit with us, he is in us (John chs.14-17).

So our task is this, to have the same mind and hence acion as that of Christ, we are to be servants. We are not to waite to be loved first, Christ has done that! we are now to love all others for their sake and for God's. And we are to seek to do so not alone, but by the power of God's Spirit. So let's stay close to the Spirit in prayer and in fellowship, and seek to love in all areas of our life.

1 comment:

Sean du Toit said...

G'day Dawg, and some fine comments here: my response is

Hope all is well with prep and nerves. Take care my friend! Sorry I won't be there to share the day, or fund the Bachelor's PARTY!