Love is not an Emotion (May 21, 2013)

…Opening To…

We limit not the truth of God to our poor reach of mind,
To notions of our day and place, crude, partial, and confined;
No, let a new and better hope within our hearts be stirred;
The Lord has yet more light and truth to break forth from his word. (George Rawson)

…Listening In…

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:12-13; context)

…Filling Up…

Moving down my old guitar case, we come to the sixth verse, which is wedged in diagonally right where the body of the case starts getting wider. I imagine that I taped this verse to the guitar case sometime around Easter one year during college. Jesus speaks these words to his disciples (whom immediately after this he calls “friends”) during his long speech right before he is betrayed, accused, convicted, and killed. So the words here are immediate. Jesus is telling his disciples just how much he loves them (and us) – enough to sacrifice himself in order that they (and we) might have access to that same love.

But beyond the immediate context of Jesus’ final meal with his friends, the words speed through the centuries and lodge themselves into our hearts. Notice that he commands his disciples to love one another. Jesus doesn’t command them to do very many things, but this is one thing he commands them to do on multiple occasions. Does it seem strange to you that he would command one to love another? It might, especially if you think of love primarily as an emotion. “I can’t help loving who I love and not loving who I don’t,” we might protest.

But love is not primarily an emotion. Love is a state of being. Love is the word we use for the voluntary conviction that propels us to step outside of our selfish selves and to discover the riches of building up one another, of finding mutuality, of respecting difference, of speaking out against intolerance and hate. If you’ve read the Harry Potter series, you know that Albus Dumbledore tells Harry on multiple occasions that Harry’s greatest gift is his ability to love. This gift compels Harry into many difficult circumstances, but it also strengthens him to face the challenges before him. If this love were a simple emotion, Harry would never have sustained it for so long, even to the point of his own sacrifice. J.K. Rowling knows that love is not just an emotion.

And so does Jesus. When he commands us to love, he gives us the opportunity to find the state of being that allows us to see a glimpse into God’s own being.

…Praying For…

Dear God, your Son commanded us to love as he loves. Help me to find the conviction to live a life where love is at the center of all my actions. In Jesus Christ’s name I pray. Amen.

…Sending Out…

I leave this moment with you, God, grateful for the opportunity to reflect on your word and looking forward to discovering its impact on my life.

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