How many songs, how many movies, how many books and stories deal with love? As each of us survey the landscapes of our lives, how much of the topography features love? As we age and feel loneliness creep in, how much of our mind and heart is occupied by love and its aches? The whole of the world seems so often to run on the axis of love – not in a saccharine, greeting-card sort of way, but as something that stops everything else. What is the only thing that can stop utterly fear, shame, loneliness, meaningless, or a sense of powerlessness? In a word – love.
The Bible makes bold, stark, and unmistakable claims: we love only because we are first loved. You love someone only because someone in your past loved you. We love our children so that they may one day love their children. We love only because God has loved us first. Love is at the center of the gospel: God showed his love in this, that while we were yet sinning, he died for us. We are loved by God not because we are lovely. We are loved into a loveliness by the love of God. And so we love.
We love because he first loved us. (I John 4:19)
O God, forasmuch as without thee we are not able to please thee: mercifully grant that thy Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.