1 John 4 v 1 – 12
Do you ever have one of those moments when you get a silly thought in your head and it won’t go away but it leads you in all sorts of directions? It happened to me a few weeks ago.
It was a Sunday afternoon and I was reading a book about authors and their books. One of the authors was a Chinese physician called Han Suyin.
Han Suyin was the author of, ‘A Many Splendid Thing’. I immediately thought it was Andy Williams who did that and I was just about to shout at the book, ‘You are wrong’; when I thought I would look it up first. It was a good job that I did or I would have looked a bit silly shouting at a book, because we were both right, Han Suyin wrote the book, ‘A many splendid thing’, but Andy Williams sang the song, ‘Love is a many splendid thing’, so that was that, but it wasn’t.
That is when the annoying thoughts crept in, if love is a many splendid thing why did Doris Day sing about her secret love? Didn’t she want anyone to know about it? And if so why sing about it and tell everybody?
Then there is Roy Orbison singing that love hurts, scars, wounds and mars, that doesn’t seem a splendid thing to me, more like the wrong kind of love. In that case is there more than one kind of love and if so how many can there be? It’s all very confusing so I looked up the official definition of ‘Love’, and found this;-
- An intense feeling of deep affection.
- A great interest and pleasure in something.
- An indescribable deep euphoric feeling for someone.
That’s all well and good but I love a good steak, well done, with black pepper sauce, but I can’t say I have an intense feeling of deep affection for it. Similarly, I overheard a conversation when a teenage girl said ‘I love him because he is so cute’. Does that mean that she only loves him while he is cute, if so what happens when he becomes not cute?(she was talking about a puppy dog at the time).
So do we put conditions on our offering of love or do we use the word too loosely to describe our feelings and don’t really mean what we are saying.
The Bible tells us that God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that we can live; now that’s what I call intense love.
The scriptures give us at least four kinds of love;-
- Storge – empathy bond (love)
- Philia – friend bond (love)
- Eros – romantic love
- Agape – unconditional ‘God’ love.
So yes it seems there are different kinds of love. There is the kind that we feel for all people across the world who we don’t necessarily know but we care for their well- being. There is the love we have for our family and friends. There is the emotional love between two people who are attracted to each other. And there is the love that God shares with all his creation.
It’s when I try to picture love that is starts to get complicated. The love for others across the world shows as warm pastel colours, the love for our families and friends shows as stronger, vibrant colours, and the romantic love shows as flashing white light with flashes of rich noisy colours.
But what colours can we put to God’s love?
A picture of Jesus Christ hanging on the cross bearing our pain and carrying our sin, could be considered as a dark intimidating colour or] one of mourning and sorrow, but is this a picture of God’s love, or is the explosion of the resurrection and the living Lord with its brilliant white shafts of light searching and destroying the darkness, into every heart that will allow it entry, into every life that will accept his presence, that is a picture of God’s love.
The love of God is not just about feelings, it is about action. It is about how we live, how we behave, how we relate to each other and how we follow Jesus.
The Bible tells us that;-
Love is patient
Love is Kind
Love does not boast and is not proud
Love does not dishonour others
Love is not self- seeking or easily angered
Love keeps no record of wrongs
If we build on these building blocks and love God with all our hearts and with all our soul we will know the love of God.
I think Han Suyin and Andy Williams were both right, love is, a many splendid thing.