Ahh summer lovin'. Today, I walked past a couple who were holding hands and strolling along with that saunter in their step that said "Everything is awesome." They stopped and stared at a concrete pillar underneath a bridge. I must admit, I spied over their shoulders to figure out what they were looking at. They were just gawking at an ordinary concrete pillar. Apparently, even the pillar was awesome. It never ceases to amaze me how lovers can find a captivating piece of art even in the most mundane objects. They are able to see wonders that are invisible to those among us who are romantically-challenged at the moment. And one thing is for sure, they feel something and they feel a lot of it.
There seems to be an ongoing discussion about whether love is a feeling or a choice. It sounds as if many assume that it can't be both. . .or can it? Are feelings and choices really mutually exclusive? I've been watching a series of sermons by John Piper in which he postulates that throughout the scriptures, God commands us to feel certain ways. Now, if emotions and choices are completely at odds with one another then those would be unreasonable commands. Piper references verses like "Weep with those who weep." That's a command that involves us feeling something for a broken person. It would be very difficult to weep without feeling some sort of empathy. There are other verses like "Abhor what is evil." Abhor is a strong word, which means that you loathe or detest something, once again, it involves some emotion. "Rejoice always" is another command that requires us to feel something, and that something is joy. God commands our emotions with other statements like "Do not fear," "Be anxious for nothing", "Do not lust." Those are all matters of the heart. These kinds of verses are everywhere in the Bible. They decimate any sort of theology that portrays obedience as a flat-lined, apathetic, passive, heartless duty.
Granted, we don't have absolute control over our emotions, but apparently we have enough control over them to justify God's commands to stir up godly feelings. I find that I can choose what to think about and which thoughts to take captive. My thoughts are accompanied by feelings. I can choose to dwell on thoughts that make me anxious, depressed, discouraged, angry. Or I can ponder things that put me joyfully at rest. The point is, I'm not a slave to my emotions, I'm in the driver-seat.
All of this is relevant to our understanding of love. Look at this verse: 1 Peter 1:22 says "fervently love one another from the heart." This verse takes love beyond the realm of hollow duty. It uses the word "fervently" which signifies warm, intense pathos. And if that's not enough, it drives the point home by telling us to love people "from the heart." It is a command to feel as we act. And we must never forget that it was Paul who said in 1 Corinthians that it's possible to give everything you have to the poor and yet not have love. God not only calls us to be givers, but cheerful givers, emotional givers, heartfelt givers. Givers who feel deeply.
The verdict is in, love is not to be faked.
Believe me, I realize that for some of the saps among us, love is all about feeling and nothing else. That is an unfortunate extreme that neglects the value of commitment and sacrifice. I'll be the first one to sound the alarm that love is much more than a feeling. However, there are others who need reminding that love is never to be divorced from feeling altogether. That is an equally unfortunate extreme.
Moral of the story: If we find ourselves hollowed out and bankrupt of feeling, then it's time to ask our Divine Lover to perform one more good ol' stinkin' resurrection on our behalf.