The bard of Avon was a bad man! He had within his creative grasp the ability to move, sway and evoke emotions that the reader often could never articulate until considering what seemed to flow so effortlessly from his prolific pen. He did this in his well known plays and in 14 lines of iambic pentameter often with quatrains and rhymed couplets.
My wife said I was easy on the eyes back in the day (no jokes please!) but when I opened my mouth and without missing a beat shortly after meeting her asked, "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? Thou art more lovely more temperate:..." and just in case she thought that's all I had, I rolled right into "When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes, I all alone beweep my outcast state...," the deal was all but done!
Playwrights, song writers, poets and storytellers of all stripes have crafted a romanticized view of what we refer to as love. The relational intrigue in most movie plots and television shows represented by the character with a physical and emotional attachment to the protagonist is often referred to as a "love interest." Love is a word we use freely and in a variety of contexts, e.g., I love to play ROOK.
In a society and culture that has come to accept the phrase "baby momma" (Can I at least put an apostrophe "s" after the y?) and it is understood by even the most removed of us and where marriage and sex videos are forms of career enhancement for those we revere, does love retain any of its original virtue? As I've heard Tina Turner protest, "What's love got to do with it?"
This concept of love has us looking out for ourselves and even to the extent we look out for someone else, it's often because it's in our own self-interest. It's very much like a business relationship that so long as the arrangement continues to be beneficial or while you're under contract, the parties to the agreement persist.
Another concept of love is a mother's love. For many, if not most, that can conjure up some strong sensory images and emotions. In some cultures, you invite a violent response if you talk about someone's mother in a manner that suggests a lack of respect. Yet, does even this love, in the best of circumstances, represent what happened on Calvary? I think it can definitely point us in the right direction.
But if even this is what informs our highest notions of love, is it any wonder that we are skeptical about the Gospel of Christ and His Righteousness? I may be cynical but it appears to me that many of us who profess a belief in righteousness by grace through faith, live our lives and give counsel as if we are seeking God's favor through our actions. I say this with sadness because there is no freedom and no joy in offering sacrifices of even good works to appease an angry god.
God's love is patient and kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. It does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails! These are not admonitions to believers, these are a calling card! It is God's billboard on the interstate of our lives.
These are not to be performed as if you have trained yourself to sing, fight or swim. They are to consumed like a thirsty man in a desert, like a hungry man in a famine. Because until you experience these and luxuriate in them, you cannot understand the Gospel. It's like what my friend David said when he experienced it; "O taste and see, that The Lord is good, blessed is the man that trusteth in him."
Trust me when I tell you, if you have not properly considered, placed in context and consumed God's love on Calvary you aren't going to put an "O" at the start of a sentence proclaiming his goodness. You will be content with a verbal assent that says, taste and see blah, blah, blah, let's get busy. The recognition is in the "O!" The peace is in the "O!" The power is in the "O!" The victory is in the "O!" The shouting all by yourself in your prayer closet is in the "O!" The circumstance-less joy is in the "O!" Love is in the "O!"