|Written by Peter Johnston|
|Wednesday, 21 September 2011 15:00|
What is love? It seems such an obvious question until you start to tease it apart. At Cosy Café Sundays at the weekend we were thinking about what it means to live by love. We talk about living by love and about God's love all the time within the Church, but perhaps we are not always aware of how much meaning this little word contains.
It is no wonder that in other languages there are numerous words that are used to describe different aspects of our English word 'love'. Most familiar are the four Greek words that C.S. Lewis famously expounds upon in his book The Four Loves. [There's more...]
On Sunday night it was agape love that we wanted to help the young members of the Cosy Café to think about, which we did using the story of the Good Samaritan in a modern version thanks to Modern Parables. It does seem increasingly rare to find the word love used and find that its use refers to the self-giving, sacrificial meaning that is tied up with divine love between God and his creation, and that love which reflects the divine in our relationships with each other as exemplified in Jesus' parable.
The word is so much more frequently used to reference things we love (think of the I ♥ PB bags and jackets that are currently all the rage - PB = Paul's Boutique - which was pointed out to me a couple of weeks ago!!), or is used as an expression of friendship (incredibly common between friends all over facebook), and then there is the romantic butterfly fluttering expression of love.
But none of these are what we think about when we talk about the unconditional expression of love that is agape. Perhaps a lack of appreciation of the depth of this form of love lies behind some of our woes in lack of commitment and rising divorce levels.
Last week the eccentric and sometimes abhorrent televangelist and one-time US Presidential candidate, Pat Robertson, was catching a lot of heat when he suggested on his TV show, the 700 Club, that actually it may be okay for you to divorce a spouse who has dementia because they are not the same person that they were when you married them.
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While no one can doubt the terrible anguish and pain that can come with caring for a loved one who has dementia, I couldn't help think that Robertson is selling too short the powerful bond of agape love that unites us.
This is the same love that allowed Jesus, even upon the cross, to reach out with forgiveness to those who nailed him there, to the thief by his side to welcome him into the Kingdom, and to his friends and family to ensure his mother would be cared for.
[Thanks to Jonathan Fleming for the photo of the special edition Cosy Café Love Hearts that were given out to everyone on Sunday night.]