How then do we really love? – Vicar’s weekly thought 3rd Feb

How then do we really love?

Today we have the famous letter from St Paul about love, you know the one, ‘Love is patient, love is kind…..and not envious or boastful…’1 and so on. We love to hear it, even if we feel a bit inadequate by the end!! The truth is of course, it is about God’s love, for God indeed is love, as St John tells us [2].
Some bits of the letter are a bit strange – surely if we gave everything we had to the poor that would be loving? Or if we sacrificed our bodies? Well, as I hope we can explore today, working out what is truly loving is quite difficult! What it means for real, discerning it, and even more than that, actually doing it! Jesus even asked us to love our enemies, saying “If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even sinners do that!” [3] Gosh!
But let’s not despair, the Holy Spirit [4] is here to help all who call on and believe in the name of Jesus. We can pray and hear what the Father wants us to do in his love, and the Holy Spirit is then ready to help us do it! Let’s tread gently with this today and see what we hear. A Roman non-believer in the 2nd century famously said, ”See how these Christians love one another” [5]; I read somewhere that one of their Emperors was rather cross, “They don’t just love their own, but our people needy as well – we need to do put a stop to this!” The presence of God among us has been deeply known through Jesus himself coming as a human being, and (to some degree at least!) by His people since by the power of the Holy Spirit. May we know God’s presence among us as we seek to love in His name.
[1] 1 Corinthians 13 [2] 1 John 4.16 [3] Luke 6.27 & 33 [4] Symbolized today by the dove
[5] Apologeticus – Tertullian c160-c230