How Do You Know That Love Exists?
by Ted Schroder, May 7, 2006
If you believe only what your physical eyes can see, and you are satisfied with your shrewdness, your sharp perception of life, your common sense, your determination not to be deceived, then you ought not to believe in love. If you fear being deceived enough to suspect every intimation of love, to reject any claims of love, would you be self-deceived? We can be deceived in many ways. We can be deceived in believing what is untrue. We can also be deceived into not believing what is true. We can be deceived by appearances. We can also be deceived by thinking that we are so shrewd that we think that we can never be deceived.
There are some people who are so skeptical about love that they deceive themselves into thinking that love does not exist. They cheat themselves out of love. They are self-deceived. They lock themselves out from love. They prevent themselves from experiencing the essence of life; for it is love that endures. Love never ends. Love is eternal. In eternity to find out that you have rejected love, and been self-deceived, is to find that you have lost everything.
Do you believe in love? Because love is immaterial its existence cannot be proved. If you do not believe that love is real you may never become aware that it exists. How do you recognize love when you see it?
Jesus said, “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick thorns from thornbushes, or grapes from briers.” (Luke 6:43,44)
Love is recognized by its fruits: patience, kindness, generosity, humility, graciousness, modesty, tolerance, forgiveness, truthfulness, protectiveness, trustfulness, perseverance, etc. But, those who do not believe in love argue that there is so much hate in the world, which you can see by its fruit: impatience, unkindness, envy, conceit, rudeness, self-seeking, anger, score-keeping, lying, cruelty, distrust, etc. How can you believe in love if there is so much hate in the world?
It is the same argument used against having children. Why have children when they can cause you so much trouble and heartache? Why bring children into such a dangerous world? How can you have children when they cost so much to raise? We have children because it is natural to have children, because love impels us to have children. No one who believes in love can doubt its existence when you hold a baby in your arms, or you see a child you love asleep, or at play. Jesus said, “A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world.” (John 16:21)
We believe in love despite the evidence of hate in the world. We believe in love because we believe in the value of relationships. In fact we cannot imagine life without relationships that require love in order to function agreeably. Love is the indispensable element of life. Life without loving is not worth living. To love people is the only thing worth living for, and without love you are not really living. Jesus said that to love people is the only true sign that you are a Christian. “”By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35) We have a human need to love and to be loved. We have an innate need for companionship. In the Garden of Eden, “The LORD God said, ‘It is not good for man to be alone.” (Genesis 2:18)
We need love, and love needs to express itself. Love is a need, a deep need; and love needs to express itself or it withers and dies. Love needs to bear fruit in relationship with another person. Love needs to be fulfilled in expressing itself towards another person. Love needs to be communicated through words and deeds. Love is not merely a feeling but an action. It is saying and doing something to and for another person.
Even Jesus felt the need to love and be loved by another person. He asked Simon Peter after the resurrection: “do you truly love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus asked the same question of Peter three times, “do you love me.” (John 21:15-17)
If love exists, where does it come from? Where does love originate? The Christian believes that love is the expression of God, for God is love. The believer in love, which he cannot see, believes also in God, whom he cannot see, as the source of love. “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.” (1 John 4:7,8)
Human love originates mysteriously in God’s love. God is the secret source of love. Although we cannot see the connection between human love and God, it is there. As a still lake is fed deep down by the flow of hidden springs, which no eye sees, so a human being’s love is grounded, still more deeply in God’s love. If there were no spring at the bottom, if God were not love, then there would be neither a lake nor a person’s love. As the still waters begin obscurely in the deep spring, so human love mysteriously begins in God’s love. The life of love has an eternal spring which never dries up.
Love is a gift. We cannot manufacture love on our own, by our own efforts. We are too sinful, too self-centered to produce love on our own. The only love we can produce is self-love, selfish love, love that seeks a return on its investment. It is that kind of love that looks for reciprocation for its efforts. Jesus said that “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45) Until our heart is changed by the grace of God in Christ, we cannot truly love.
True love, the love from God, is the fruit of the Spirit. “God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom he has given us.” (Romans 5:5) When we have given our hearts to Christ, and asked him to transform us by his presence, we receive the gift of his Holy Spirit. With his Spirit comes his love. If we want to experience love, if we want to believe in love, if we want to love others, if we want to bear good fruit, then we must pray, through Christ, for the gift of the Spirit of love.
“How could love be rightly discussed, if You were forgotten, O God of Love, source of all love in heaven and on earth; You who spared nothing but gave all in love; You who are love, so that one who loves is what he is only by being in You!
How could love properly be discussed if You were forgotten, You who revealed what love is, You, our Savior and Redeemer, who gave Yourself to save all! How could love be rightly discussed if You were forgotten, Spirit of Love; You who take nothing for Your own but remind us of that sacrifice of love, remind the believer to love as he is loved, and his neighbor as himself.”
(Most of the material in this presentation is taken from Soren Kierkegaard’s “Love’s Hidden Life and Its Recognisability by Its Fruits” in WORKS OF LOVE.)
An audio version of this presentation may be found on www.ameliachapel.com.
Amelia Plantation Chapel, Amelia Island, Florida.
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