How Do You Define Love?

I heard a quote today that struck me. The quote was from some sort of devotional that someone was reading out of and it said,

A heart that loves God adoringly falls in line with his will and his ways.

Besides the problem with using gender-specific terminology for God, there is something else troubling about this quote. The idea, as I understand it, is that if we love God, then we must necessarily fall in lock-step with God’s will and his ways. I wonder, though, if that’s completely true.

When we talk about God, and about our relationship with God, we necessarily speak in similes and metaphors. That is, we can only understand God through what we already know and understand; things that we know about ourselves and humanity, things that we know about reality. We have to filter our understanding of God through something else. For instance, if I say “God is my rock” what I really mean is that I believe God to possess certain traits that are similar to a rock; namely, God is solid and unmoving, not that God is literally a rock.

In the same way, when I talk about my love of God, I have to filter it through what I know about love in other aspects of my life – with my parents and my wife, for instance. However, when I love my wife that does not mean that I have to fall in line with her will and her ways. I believe that the same is true in my relationship with God.

The Bible is full of characters who are celebrated for their relationship with God in which they are honest with God and often question God. If love is to be true love, then it must be filled with honesty, not with puppetry.

I’m still thinking on this topic. What are your thoughts?

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2 thoughts on “How Do You Define Love?

  1. I’ve been exploring this exact question lately, only I’m asking “Can you define love?” Many people give me their definitions, and some simply say “No.” One thing I’m certain of is that there is no one definition of love.

    Just as you say, our metaphors and analogies come from experiences. Then what if a person has never experienced full, complete love? Then how do we explain God’s love to that person.

    I agree, just because we love someone, doesn’t mean we fall in line with their will, but (when referring to God) it does mean that we want to follow His will.

  2. Just read your post . . . I just finshed reading “Surrender to Love: Discovering the Heart of Christian Spirituality” by David Benner for a pre-class reading assignment. It may prove helpful as you ponder the above stated points . . . it might not . . . but I thought I’d make you aware of it. It’s a short book so you could read it in a few hours!

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