What’s love to you? What does it mean? Who do you love? How do you know when you are in love? Does it matter who you love? And what is the difference between being in love with somebody and loving somebody?

Such were the questions Malcolm Churchill asked last Sunday. John summed it up pretty well – God is love. But how do we apply that in our lives?

The “Love is…” cartoon series cites various interpretations of love. So, which works for you? Is love:

  • Walking the dog together
  • Happiness for two
  • Do right, not being right
  • Seeing his/her face everywhere
  • Never wanting to leave / say goodbye /be parted
  • Keeping him/her always in mind

Defining love, like truth and beauty, is not easy. Identifying what is true, beautiful and lovely is easier. Identifying the qualities helps our understanding. Matthew relays how Jesus urges us to love our enemies. Not to be in love with our enemies. But to love them. To decide to be loving towards them. It is the difference between the emotional effects of human nature, that cause us to be in love, and the decision we can take, inspired by Christ, to mirror his perfection by being loving. How many people would you love and care for if you had not heard of Christ?

Loving those who oppose us is not easy. In the UK we don’t often face those who hate us, in the way that can turn our lives upside down. But maybe we can grapple with those who don’t love us. So, does Jesus make a difference to our response to others?

In Mark a scribe asks Jesus what the greatest command is. Love God first and love your neighbour next. This is an extreme statement, with no caveat or balancing requirement.

These are absolute commands. Yet we put things in the way… ”Yes, I agree, but….” This distinction is similar to the difference between emotional happiness and deciding to be joyous, whether we are happy or unhappy.

Unhappiness gives us the opportunity to test whether we are joyous. In a similar way sadness gives us the opportunity to test whether we are loving.

Are you?