Talking about love
Posted on August 6, 2009
Love is the measure by which we shall we judged. Made famous by Dorothy Day, this quote originally comes from St John of the Cross. I’ve been reading Dorothy Day again, and it made me wonder (The Disappearance of Love) where the talk of love had gone in Christian circles, at the least the ones I frequent. I concluded that we need to talk about it more. Now, talking about something is hardly a solution to its lack, but talking at least gets the subject circulating again. Here’s a few of many reasons to talk about love.
I used to believe that evangelism would happen when people asked me about my oh-so very distinctive life, and then I would tell the inquirer all about Jesus’ love. I used to think that my life would seem very different to others’ lives, creating interest and questions. I’ve since realised that my life is pretty flawed, and it’s an odd occasion when my life prompts someone to ask about it. Long gone is the time when the majority of Australians see a godly life and connect it with God, when a Christ-like lifestyle reminds us of Christ. We need to interpret the meaning of our lives for others, and the meaning of our common life as followers of Christ, if it has any meaning, is found in love.
2. We need to talk about love to bring to mind (re-mind) us of what we believe.
As we delve deeper into the Way of Jesus, we can fall prey to doing well, more than doing good. As our experience grows, we shunt ourselves into positions of responsibility which have jargon, meetings and protocols that often have little to do with love. Other priorities distract us – family, children, mortgages. Talking about love undermines our attachment to our roles and responsibilities, re-minding us of the vision that they serve, and hopefully calls us to a truer imitation of Christ.
3. We need to talk about love to induct others into the Way of Love
Somewhere along the Way, others will want to follow it too. I know, amazing! It’s a difficult path to follow and I wouldn’t do it for quids, but I’ll do it for love. As we induct others along the Way, we have to tell them the story of Jesus, which at the bottom of it all is the story of love personified.
4. We need to talk this language because it’s being lost
‘Love’ is a word that’s being suffocated under an avalanche of shallow images which are taking on the character of reality. If we want to avoid ‘love’ simply becoming a way of referring to our affection for chocolate, casual sex or our celebrity of choice, then we need to start talking about what love is, and what it isn’t. That’s going to make us look fairly odd, because the ‘love’ of God is very different to the ‘love’ of media culture, described as it is in the stories of Israel, Jesus and the early church. It’s strong, consistent, endures all things, is hardly ever soft, resists lies, is ready to sacrifice for the beloved.