The Depth, Height, Weight, Breadth Of Love – Rethinking Love In Today’s World.
A few weeks back, I got onto twitter and started tweeting about LOVE. That particular morning a few weeks back I had just re-read Paul’s letter in 1 Corinthians 13 with new eyes.
See, at that particular point in time, the notion of love really confounded me (In all fairness, I’m still confounded and learning).
I had movie definitions, dictionary definitions and novel definitions etc.
Anyhow, in my confusion, I read that chapter a few times and yet I still couldn’t get it. How could Paul say love never fails and yet I (mistakenly and supposedly) saw it failing all time? I was pathetically failing to grasp the slippery nuances of this verb or is it noun or is it emotion and thought it very powerless and a waste of precious time.
I mean how dare Paul write assertively, unperturbed and so assuredly about love walloping mighty, tough and hardened faith and hope? Was Paul for real?
Which world was Paul living in? Did Paul know about our current world? Did he even have any inkling at all about the various pressures we faced on a daily basis?
Hadn’t Paul heard people saying love was for the broke, weak and pathetic?
Hadn’t Paul heard that love doesn’t put food on the table?
Was there no pain during Paul’s time? Were people not killing each other over mundane things during his generation? Were the separation/break up/divorce rates not on the rise during his days? Were children not being abandoned, mistreated, thrown into toilets and onto the streets when he lived? Were there no starving and poor people during his age? Theft, robberies, abuse, pride, fear, insults, violence, gossip, slander, rage, deceit etc. Was Paul aware of such plagues or was he just waxing lyrical because he never got to live during the information/knowledge age?
I had too many questions (and no one to answer them) because most of the people I knew were too busy doing one thing or another to try and indulge me in my proclivities. I thus decided to put 1 Corinthians 13 aside.
Another reason was that the more I read that chapter, the more of a fraud I felt like. And wanting to save my skin and mind from dissonance, I decided to shelve it and to dwell on more promising aspects of life.
Anyhow, as God work’s sometimes one cheery morning without me even trying to, I finally got my EUREKA moment! And I went like! BINGO! That is it! This is in fact what Paul was saying when he wrote that famous chapter. It finally started dawning on me why Paul was waxing lyrical.
Paul’s letter says many things but I will share two today:
- It doesn’t matter how well you communicate/speak/write etc. If you don’t have love, you are kidding yourself.
- It doesn’t matter how prophetic, knowledgable, intelligent, talented and wise you are; If you don’t have love, don’t pamper yourself.
- It doesn’t matter how much money/things/time/benefits you give to those less fortunate than you: If it’s not done out of love, you better keep your riches and enjoy them alone.
- It doesn’t matter how much pain and abuse you can endure at the hands of tormentors. If you are not enduring out of love, please re-think your strategy.
In essence Paul is cautioning us thus:
All those sweeping, dramatic, public displays we keep engaging in, sometimes even with Videos, T.V’s, newspapers, the media helping us to record etc, don’t really matter if we are just doing them for appearances and are not doing it out of love, true humanity and humility.
I feel the chapter screaming:
- Forget the public shows.
- Forget the frivolities.
- Forget the superficiality.
- Forget the extravaganza.
- Forget the plastic surgery.
- Forget the revisions and correction.
- Forget the spectacle and displays.
Just forget it all. Instead! Lets go DEEPER!
- Don’t give me the facade.
- Don’t show me crocodile tears.
- Don’t show me your perfection.
- Don’t show me the nice, decent clothes.
- Don’t even bother with the manicured nails.
Show me your scars and wounds.
Show me the crevices and cracks.
Show me where it hurts the most.
Show me where you need healing.
Show me where I can attend to you.
Show me the dirt beneath your nails.
Show me your fears and vulnerabilities.
Show me the beauty too!
Show me the laughter, humor and fun.
Show me the whimsical plays and dreams.
Show me the delicate, cute and pretty lines too.
Show me the guffaws, chuckles, grins and smiles.
Show me YOU, in whatever hues and colors you are created.
Colored, black and white, sepia, with filters, as a portrait or as landscape, with borders or without, with a Lomo effect, HDR or Bokeh.
The applications don’t really matter.
As long as it is you and not a person/picture with no soul!
Some people are breathing but they have no souls. Show me a soul!
Don’t lament to me about other people’s realities.
Don’t share with me another person’s weaknesses.
Don’t tell me other people’s stories without their permission.
I don’t want those stories, myths, tales, fabrications.
Tell me your stories.
Tell me your realities.
Tell me about YOU!
Love goes deeper.
Love goes to the core.
Love doesn’t float on the surface.
Love is not conventional.
Love runs the extra mile.
Love doesn’t make sense.
Love is overwhelming.
Love beats logic and thinking.
Love goes further and longer.
Love removes bandaids and deals with wounds.
Love is not interested in the flowers, it wants the roots.
Love swims to the deep end and then submerges
itself and lets the torrents crash over it.
Love is grit, gentleness, grace all meshed into one to produce a tapestry of unimaginable dimensions.
And that is how this pathetic, seemingly, disturbing thing called LOVE manages to trump the ferocious, predominant, popular and powerfully menacing giants called Faith and Hope.
Thats how love beats knowledge, wisdom, beauty, talent, money, education, degrees, fashion and all the other trappings we have grown accustomed to.
For a moment, yes, take a pause please and:
- Forget their names and locations!
- Forget how people dress!
- Forget how stinky their breath is!
- Forget the tattoos on their bodies!
- Forget the alcohol they drink!
- Forget the drugs they binge on!
- Forget the color of their skin!
- Forget their religion and ideologies!
- Forget their sins and favorite pass times!
- Forget they haven’t taken a shower in days!
- Forget the language in which speak or worship God!
- Forget how pathetic and weak they look!
- Forget the disfigurement and lack or refinement.
Forget all that! Forget all that! Forget it!
Now change your lenses;
Imagine this person was you. Imagine their story was yours.
Picture their reality as yours (I know this is too difficult for some people).
How would you want to be treated if the tables were suddenly turned (And this can happen at any time and to anyone).
Imagine for a moment you found yourself on the other side of the divide.
Hindus talk of reincarnation. Sometimes I wonder how people would behave if they knew that their present actions may get them reincarnated as something much lesser in another life. I wonder if this would influence how these folks treat others.
I will summarize by saying: Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church is saying that Love:
- It is patient.
- It is kind.
- It doesn’t envy (e.g how come the pastors/corporations/other people are so successful and I’m so poor yet I do a, b, c etc. It’s just not fair).
- It doesn’t boast.
- It is not proud (I can never do that! My standards are too high).
- It does not dishonor others (those who like exposing other peoples secrets, secluded battles, nudes and other private information for sinister motives without permission).
- It is not self seeking (Me! Me! Myself and I kind of philosophies).
- It is not easily angered (doesn’t mean it doesn’t get angry. Just means the tempers are even and not short).
- It keeps no record of wrongs (Lord help our memories).
- It doesn’t delight in evil.
- It rejoices with the truth.
- It always protects.
- It always trusts.
- It always hopes.
- It always perseveres.
Love never fails.
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.1 Corinthians 13:1-8
4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.
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Also published on Medium.