The spirituality of love


Love. We all need it, want it, search for it. We feel it and think about it, dramatize and sing about it. It makes us happy, and it makes us sad.

But what is love? Is it primarily an emotion or is it more an attitude or an action? And isn’t there something wonderfully transcendent, eternal, and mysterious about love?

The qualities of love that confound and inspire us, and make our lives worth living, give evidence that love is more than an evolved human expression or socio-cultural adaptation. Such a base explanation and definition for something so critical to a truly satisfying and meaningful existence just doesn’t cut it for me.

Have you ever considered what a purely naturalistic accounting of the reality of love would mean? It would mean the depths of emotion that consume a man’s thoughts of his beloved and drive him to do anything for her, or the lengths a mother will go to care for and protect her child are merely the outworking of chemical reactions in the brain. Nothing more. It would mean that the supreme goodness we attach to the concept of real love doesn’t stick. In the survival of the fittest, why should a quality that seeks another’s good be preferable to selfishness?

I believe we all, consciously or subconsciously, recognize the transcendent nature of love. And I believe this points to the existence of a loving, transcendent God. If there is something other-worldly about it, then there must be another world. If we can love unconditionally and feel and express great mercy and compassion, then the God who created us in his image must love us like that, but perfectly and without limit.

And just as we experience inexpressible, tangibly intangible (if you will forgive my seemingly contradictory attempt to express the inexpressible) feelings of joy when we are truly loved or even when witnessing expressions of real love, so God must be similarly blessed when we love each other and also respond to him in love. We can delight God…give him joy. That’s an incredible truth, and a great gift, I believe. But only if we genuinely love him, otherwise doing what delights God feels like a duty, if not a chore.

The first and greatest commandment, and the second which is like it, both oblige us to love. Because real, active love blesses both the lover and the beloved. And when we are the lover and our beloved is the one who loves us with an undying love…the blessings multiply into eternity.

But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— 1 Corinthians 2:9

Love. We can’t even comprehend it in its fullness. And we can’t reduce it to a material reality. It transcends time, and space, and matter. It is spiritual. It is of God.

This post was originally published in October, 2015.