How do I love you?

I keep seeing well-meaning and well-argued and well-presented articles about how to keep up church numbers, how to informally evangelise, how to lead, how to serve … how to “be” what is expected of a good follower.

And I wonder why.

Love me, you and something that binds us all.

Even after 2000+ years the Church seems unfamiliar with the simplicity of love.  The only conclusion I can find as to why that should be is this …

  • Love cannot be controlled.
  • Love isn’t something that easily fails under the labels “wrong” and “right”.
  • Love is to be found in the oddest places by the oddest people for the oddest reasons.
  • Love is or is not.
  • Love doesn’t check whether it’s okay to love – love loves or does not love.
  • Love is not a feeling I drum up and nurture – love is or is not. 
  • Love is not something I am taught and trained to do – something I am examined and graded on – love doesn’t work like that because love is not work. 
  • Love is or is not.

Love me, you and something that binds us all.

Love is not an institution or a belief system.  Love is not a way of saying words.  Love is not appropriate or inappropriate.  Love is not a consensus.  Love needs no “safeguarding”.  All of these things are just that – things.  And love is not “things” – love is or love is not.  Love is not even a physical thing.  Sex is not love and love is not sex.  Duty and service are not love.  Tithing is not love.  Believing in One True God as defined and interpreted and taught is not love either.

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Love is or love is not.

That’s why all the conceptual … “church is everywhere and in everything” … “church is the people not the buildings” … all those “church” definitions.  Church is not a thing just as love is not a thing.   Things change.  Beliefs change.  Truths change.  People change.  Likes and dislikes change.  Buildings come and go.   Relationships come and go.  Institutions come and go.  Gods come and go.   But love is love – or is not.

I love my wife, my children my brothers and sisters, my grandchildren, my friends and work colleagues … all those I have met and not yet met.  If I love I don’t need different kinds of love – I love or I do not love.  And the things I do or don’t out of love will be different according to the things that others desire or need or hate or fear. 

But they are things – and we choose things.  We decide how important those things are.  We debate how important those things are.  We legislate to allow or prohibit those things.  We attack and defend the things we agree with or not.  We focus on things because love is or is not.  And when love is … I am.

Until then I am not.

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