Love is a ‘many splendored thing’! So it was described in the book, film and song of 1955 but what did they mean? People have been trying to work out what love means from the very beginning! Boy meets girl and ‘lust’ pretends to be ‘love’. Whereas lust surfs on the crest of the wave until it crashes spent on to the beach, love moves steadily in the depths with the strength of a whale. The world promotes shallow definitions and poor imitations of love:
- ‘I love fashion, and I love changing my style, my hair, my makeup, and everything I've done in the past has made me what I am now. Not everyone is going to like what I do, but I look back at everything, and it makes me smile’ – Victoria Beckham
- ‘I am just a small girl in a big world trying to find someone to love’ – Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn was simply expressing the desire of every human being, to be loved and to have someone to love. What does love mean to you?
Two Princes. Two stories about love. Two outcomes.
One young Prince was unable to define his love: ‘Whatever in love means’ – Prince Charles. Marrying Princess Diana in any case led to much heartache all round.
The other was described by the Apostle Peter as ‘the Prince and Saviour’. This Eternal Prince was of another league and defined love in his very life: ‘But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us’ – Romans 5:8
In its true place, love cannot exist in isolation. Lust lives in selfish inwardness but love lives outwardly – it can be seen, not just heard.
- ‘Love is friendship that has caught fire. It is quiet understanding, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weaknesses’ – Ann Landers
- ‘When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive - to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love’ – Marcus Aurelius
- ‘Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope’ – Maya Angelou
- ‘True love doesn't happen right away; it's an ever-growing process. It develops after you've gone through many ups and downs, when you've suffered together, cried together, laughed together’ – Ricardo Montalban
- ‘Love is not to be purchased, and affection has no price’ – St Jerome
Jack to friends and family, Clive Staples Lewis wrote the seminal book, ‘The Four Loves’ which is well worth reading for a better understanding of love as he looks at four Greek words to define it – ‘Storge’ (Affection), ‘Philia’ (Friendship), ‘Eros’ (Romantic) and ‘Agape’ (Unconditional Love).
- ‘To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable’ – C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves
George Sand said that ‘there is only one happiness in life – to love and be loved’. It is possible for every human being, even if they were born to unloving parents and never find their life companion for marriage. Some can become obsessed with the need for that aspect of love and miss the many other opportunities to discover love in the broader definition that Lewis gave.
- ‘Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none’ – William Shakespeare
- ‘A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love’ – St Basil
- ‘I believe forgiveness is the best form of love in any relationship. It takes a strong person to say they're sorry and an even stronger person to forgive’ - Yolanda Hadid
- ‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that’ – Martin Luther King Jr
- ‘Did I offer peace today? Did I bring a smile to someone's face? Did I say words of healing? Did I let go of my anger and resentment? Did I forgive? Did I love? These are the real questions. I must trust that the little bit of love that I sow now will bear many fruits, here in this world and the life to come’ – Henri Nouwen
- ‘Love is a fruit in season at all times and within reach of every hand’ – Mother Teresa
- ‘Never forget the three powerful resources you always have available to you: love, prayer, and forgiveness’ – H Jackson Brown Jr
Bishop Michael Curry preached a powerful sermon about love at the wedding of another Prince as Harry married Meghan:
- ‘"The late Dr Martin Luther King Jr once said, and I quote: 'We must discover the power of love, the redemptive power of love. And when we do that, we will make of this old world a new world, for love is the only way.' "Ultimately, the source of love is God himself: the source of all of our lives. There's an old medieval poem that says: 'Where true love is found, God himself is there'. "The New Testament says it this way: 'Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God, and those who love are born of God and know God. Those who do not love do not know God.' Why? 'For God is love.' De Chardin said fire was one of the greatest discoveries in all of human history. "And he then went on to say that if humanity ever harnesses the energy of fire again, if humanity ever captures the energy of love - it will be the second time in history that we have discovered fire.’ Bishop Michael Curry
Let’s return to the Prince of Peace for he give us more than words, he gives us his life:
- ‘Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us’ – I John 4: 7-12
Love was not our idea; it originates and is sustained in God. We love because he first loved us and we must also love the people around us. What does that love look like?
- ‘Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails’ – 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8
If we will love like this, the world will be changed. Even when others are not loving in this way, God will give us the strength to live in love through his Holy Spirit and so give him the glory. For it is in loving this way that we show others we are children of God and bear his likeness.
‘Here is love, vast as the ocean, Loving kindness as the flood
When the Prince of Life, our Ransom, Shed for us His precious blood
Who His love will not remember? Who can cease to sing His praise?
He can never be forgotten, Throughout Heaven's eternal days
On the mount of crucifixion, Fountains opened deep and wide
Through the floodgates of God's mercy, Flowed a vast and gracious tide
Grace and love, like mighty rivers, Poured incessant from above
And Heaven's peace and perfect justice, Kissed a guilty world in love
No love is higher, no love is wider, No love is deeper, no love is truer
No love is higher, no love is wider, No love is like Your love, O Lord’ – William Rees
TAGS – love, true, loyalty, eros, agape, philia, storge, Lewis