I have been thinking about the topic of love for some time now; the need for it and the universal yearning for the outpouring of it in the world as a healing balm.
The response of Love
A healing balm to the festering wound of hurt, bitterness resentment and hate, the collateral damage left as a reminder in the aftermath of events that precipitated the above, namely: wars, racism and the respective ills spilling out from this venom like vice upon mankind that we all know too well in one way or another.
It is in the face of this that we recognise the need for a response of love.
The world needs it, but can it give it? I think the desire is noble and commendable but alas let us dig a bit deeper in our discourse.
I want to put some instances on the table and force us to introspect a bit, since the matter of love has two aspects to look on: the motive and the action that may flow from the recesses of our hearts and minds.
When we show love, who do we tend to show this to? Maybe those accessible to us; convenient to our hands extension? We tend to show love to those who love us, for many different reasons - I don't claim to know all motives enough to draw on specificity - but let me share one such reason to shed some light on a big possibility for our benefit.
In his book The Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoyevsky recounts the confession of an elderly woman before the elderly priest father Zosima that is of note to us. She says of active love:
"I shut my eyes and ask myself, 'Would you persevere long on that path? And if the patient whose wounds you are washing did not meet you with gratitude, but worried you with his whims, without valuing or remarking your charitable services, began abusing you and rudely commanding you, and complaining to the superior authorities of you (which often happens when people are in great suffering)- what then?
Would you persevere in your love, or not?' And do you know, I came with horror to the conclusion that, if anything could dissipate my love to humanity, it would be ingratitude. In short, I am a hired servant, I expect my payment at once- That is, praise, and the repayment of love with love. Otherwise I am incapable of loving anyone".
The issue addressed in the above quote is definitely of note to us; we love with the natural expectation of getting the reward of reciprocated love; but in this world in which we live, will this always be the case, then what do we do? Will our love for humanity dissipate as the woman's?
Much non-reciprocated love
Many times, when we show love and it is not reciprocated we hold and live with a sense of bitterness and resentment. We espouse the idea of the peasant lady, who vicariously confesses this problem if we would but let her.
We believe we are owed: respect, love and honour. But herein lays the problem; that is not the love the world needs, because such a love does not fit into the human context - because we do not always reciprocate. Let us listen to what Jesus says on the matter.
In Luke chapter 6, verses 32-36 Jesus says
"If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you?
For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount.
But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons ofthe Most High, forhe is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful".
Jesus speaks about the only love that matters by setting it apart and celebrating it, a love that goes beyond the human context of 'tit for tat'. It is this love that speaks to the human situation of hate with a formidable weapon of love well defined, a love that is commended to us by Jesus in the above passage and echoed in the following sentiment of Father Zosima in The Brothers Karamazov:
"Love in dreams is greedy for immediate action, rapidly performed and in the sight of all. Men will even give their lives if only the ordeal does not last long but is soon over, with all looking on and applauding as though on the stage. But active love is labour and fortitude and for some people too, perhaps, a complete science".
A love that perseveres
The love we need is a love that perseveres - because to love like this is not always easy and is often hard- as opposed to ceasing when conditions for love are not met. How could such a love ever save? What we need inexorably is a transcendent reason as we transcendently gaze, we need to look beyond ourselves. If we are the final reasons for loving, then why act in spite of?
Such a recourse implies the transcendent, because we have looked beyond ourselves for a reason to love a person 'in spite' of how they are; whether they will love us back or not. To love in spite of needs, a basis to do just that if we are to arrest our consciences, may retort almost naturally saying "why should I?" God wants us to - the same God who showed love to us when we still rebelled against him.
To love with no expectation from the people we love; expecting the reward from only God who is faithful and just to deliver.
A love that commends
This is the Love we need in the world, since those we need to love may be hostile to us while we administer the medicine for their healing. To assume that all altruistic actions equate to love is misguided, we commend our motives to God who is the supreme judge, we are just assured of what should move us to act.
Paul in Corinthians speaks about giving of one's body to be burnt and have not love, it would profit him nothing. We can and we do things that are noble with the possibility of selfish ambitions, but Love is needed.
I close with the Love that John commends for us to have in 1 John chapter, 4 verses 9-11
"In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another".
This is the Love that's needed; with a transcendent tie without any earthly reason.
Paul Lewis is a Staff Worker for Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship in Kingston Jamaica, where he also resides. He has aspirations of becoming a Christian Apologist and he loves reading especially topics like: History, Philosophy and Theology. You can follow him on twitter @VeritasDeiVinci
Paul Lewis' previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/paul-lewis.html