As I sit here in a cafe watching the Christmas hustle and bustle, I can’t help thinking that Christmas has become partly a grand Consumer Festival dedicated to the great God of GDP and part a parody of its original spirit. Everyone hides away at home with ‘their’ loved ones and the original Christian message of love to ‘all’ men has become somewhat diluted. This and a message from a student has prompted me to write this post.
Just for a moment, put aside your preconceptions about love and have a little think about the quote above from Quentin Crisp. ‘Love’ has become misunderstood in our society to the point where it is only really spoken of in terms of romantic love. Love has almost become a taboo subject as romantic love and sexual attraction are difficult to disentangle which makes discussion of love a bit tricky for most people. Consequently, we have far too narrow a definition of love.
The ancient Greeks had several types of love as you can see here on Wikipedia.
one of these is Agape. Agape is the all pervasive love that was translated in the bible to the word ‘charity’ to distinguish it from romantic or familial love. Agape is love where there is no need for reciprocation. It is not the sort of love that we expect to be thanked for and so it has the attributes of charity where ‘the left hand knows not what the right hand is doing’.
I understand that some biblical quotations are difficult to understand and interpret but this piece from Corinthians explains it better than I ever could:
“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
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, and have not love, I am nothing.
And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profiteth me nothing.
Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
Love never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
~ Paul’s letter to the Corinthians (1:13)
Have a wonderful holiday and a great new year!