Embracing an Embodied, Relational Way of Love

by Mark Votava

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The mystery of love is very compelling.  There is something about love that is longed for within us.  We all wanted to be valued, cared for and treated with respect rather than abused.  I think this means we all want to be loved.

And my experience is that God is love.  We are all created in the image of God so we have the capacity to love as God does.  I have seen too many people who believe in becoming an expression of judgment rather than love in the name of God.  And this is why so many people have dismissed the church and rightly so.

The church’s lack of love has contributed to too much atheism in the world.  I lament over this.  It is sad to see a God who is so beautiful become misrepresented so much by people who are addicted to power, wealth, greed and individualism.

Where are the people who want to become an expression of love, humility, simplicity, vulnerability, honesty and grace?  This would be a truly beautiful way to live if we could long for it.  But a lot of times we just don’t care that much and we settle for apathy.

  • Embodied, relational, communal imagination

This communal imagination to love in a place will liberate us all to become more human.  This has been my own experience.  I understand my own humanity better because of the embodied, relational, communal imagination that I am a part of in my neighborhood.

  • Love never fails

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging symbol.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.  But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away …

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love…  (1 Corinthians 13:1-8,13).

  • Love is the story we are to enter into

I love this passage of Scripture because it is the major theme of all of the New Testament.  Love is the story that we are to enter into.  It is everything.

  • Becoming an expression of 1 Corinthians 13

We are to inhabit our local context as the body of Christ living into this posture toward all of life.  This is what will shape us relationally.  I want to become an expression of 1 Corinthians 13 together with my friends in our neighborhood.

  • When we lose sight of love

Thomas Merton states, “When we lose sight of the central element in Christian holiness, which is love, and we forget that the way to fulfill the Christian commandment to love is not something remote and esoteric, but is on the contrary something immediately before us, then the Christian life becomes complicated and very confusing.  It loses the simplicity and the unity which Christ gave it in his gospel, and it becomes a labyrinth of unrelated precepts, counsels, ascetic principles, moral cases, and even of legal and ritual technicalities.  These things become difficult to understand in proportion as they lose their connection with charity which unites them all and gives them all an orientation to Christ.

How can we become an expression of love together in everyday life?