This past weekend, we went to St. Genevive, Missouri for the wedding of my husband’s cousin to a lovely young woman. The ceremony was held under the domed ceiling of a beautiful, ornate cathedral–the oldest cathedral west of the Mississippi I believe. It was simple, yet elegant and the bride and groom both glowed with the warmth of love they held for one another. One of the scripture passages used in the service was the same one my husband and I chose to have read on our wedding day almost six years ago. It has become one of my favorites:
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:12-14
“Love Binds in Perfect Unity” is what I had engraved on my husband’s wedding band. Love has always been one of my favorite words. The “ouh” vowel is soft and round around the palette while the consonant L slips lightly off the tongue. The harsher V is tempered by the “eh” on the end which provides a gentle expulsion of air. Like the brush of fingertips on bare skin, it is tender. And yet, it possesses the ability to grip you as tight as a mother’s hand on her child in a crowded place. Love can be at once one of the most frivolous and one of the most powerful words in the English language, and while our society has mastered the art of frivolity, the love to which Paul writes is power incarnate.
So, what is it about love that has so much power? First, as Paul states, love acts as a binding agent. It pulls together virtues such as compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience and forgiveness. It is the thing that makes all of these other virtues possible. Can we show compassion and have not love for those to whom we show compassion? Can we forgive if we have not known the great love that makes all forgiveness possible?
Yet, there is more…
Perfect love drives out fear. 1 John 4:18
John writes that there is no fear in love because fear has to do with punishment, and love is not punishing. Rather, love is freeing. When we love, we are letting go of ourselves to focus on another. We do not worry about our own wants, issues, hang-ups, mistakes. Instead, we focus on the best we have to give to someone else. We learn how to meet the needs of others, to care for others, to lift others up, to heal others. For that is the ultimate goal of love.
Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for another. John 15:
And this is the penultimate power of love. We give–all that we have, all that we are–for the benefit of another. Martin Luther King, Jr. put it this way:
Power at its best is LOVE implementing the demands of justice. Justice at its best is LOVE correcting everything that stands against LOVE.
Can you imagine a world where the power of love was lived out every day? I believe it is this, precisely, that God is calling us to as Christians–to bring forth his kingdom in love. Jesus himself boiled the entire Gospel message down to these two things: 1) love God, 2) love others. What a beautiful command!
Blessings and Peace,