LOVE – the singlemost word that every culture has a word. The Chinese have the single character 愛 (ai), while the Greeks have a number but four were immortalized by CS Lewis namely, στοργή (storge), φιλíα (philia), ἔρως (eros) and ἀγάπη (agape). We Filipino have two which are namely pagmamahal and pag-ibig in Tagalog or pagpalangga and paghigugma in my native Hiligaynon. If the knowledge of love cuts across cultures and is a common human experience, what is it then? In today’s society, love is the maxim of the younger generations clamor. Everyone wants to be loved but where should one look for love?
I attended the evening service at Greenhills Christian Fellowship yesterday and the pulpit was assigned to Elder Ed Trono. He said something that I agree the most; love is the hardest topic to preach. 1 Corinthians 13 gives us a detail of what love is and is not. To some, this are merely a checklist that one has to follow to ensure one goes within the scope of love but when one examines it, it would be the hardest checklist to accomplish not just in a day but for the whole lifetime, frustrating for all of us. Apostle Paul wrote this exhortation on love to a problematic church which has been in a divisive strife. Not so different from the present church, isn’t it? Paul’s exhortation not only cuts across the problems of the Corinthian Church but the very problem of humanity.
Personally, I have to stop, think and take a deep breath while writing this article myself. Studying and writing about love is one humbling experience for my family themselves can attest I am not much of a loving person that in fact, I am more loving to others than to them. I guess it is hard to love someone who knows your weakness and are very critical, dogmatic, historical and even hysterical or what not about it, isn’t it? One does not have to read further than verses four to seven of 1 Corinthians 13 to fell guilty of not loving at all. In fact, I was in a partial state of denial even after Elder Ed Trono’s sermon! How can one not be guilty when love is described as patient, kind, not boastful, not envious, not proud, not dishonorable, not selfish, not provocative and not judgmental? I think not one of us can attest being these and certainly love has got an opposite – me!
Why did God have to enlighten apostle Paul with His word about love when all of these seems impossible to accomplish? There is a question we need to answer; do we have to rely on ourselves to be what love is or do we need some help? An atheist jeep campaign has been launched lately with the premise that we can be good and love without God. We can be good but by whose standards and certainly, how can we love truly? Our God is the God of order and he brought to order this world not just because he felt lonely or he has it in his whim but because of love. Certainly when we struggle with loving, we turn to someone who made it all. In our limited capacity, we can never love truly and only the Creator of love can guide us through all our struggle. There is the Holy Spirit which he sent as His Guide and Comforter to those who have a loving relationship with Him. Our relationship with God teaches us to be more like him everyday. We can be the least loving of all people but certainly we we have God’s grace to redeem us from an unloving heart.
As I pray everyday, I always pray that God will teach me how to love. I need to learn more as God puts the burden in my heart as He stretches my faith to love all the more the unlovable, strangers and my own enemies. Imagine if all know how to love, would we still see wars dividing nation afte nation, families broken apart by misunderstanding and countries buried in corrupting, selfish hatred? The world where love abounds certainly is a utopian and not of this world but it is certainly not impossible to love. It all starts in your relationship and how you treat others within your immediate circle. Wouldn’t it be better if we treat others in the light of love where your wish to be understood will most certainly be? Love certainly is the more excellent way.