Last night I was again in class at the local university. I got there a little bit early and the girl behind me was talking to someone on her cell phone. She was not very nice on the phone, in fact she was rude. I wouldn’t have thought twice about this except at the end of her conversation in a drab monotone she tacked on an “I love you” before she hung up. The next three hours of class the teacher lectured on how to do a cost benefit analysis on your interpersonal relationships in order to achieve the most personal satisfaction and fulfill your own needs to the fullest. I was struck with two examples of how the world sees love. The sad thing is, other than the continual grace of God, we see things the same way. I like how C.S. Lewis puts it in Mere Christianity when he says
“But love, in the Christian sense does not mean emotion. It is not a state of
feelings but of the will; that state of the will which we have naturally about
ourselves, and must learn to have about other people.
He goes on to say that our natural affections for other people and for God will come and go. These feelings are not always there but there is a solution.
“Do not sit and try to manufacture feelings. Ask yourself, “If I were sure that
I loved God what would I do? When you have found the answer, go and do
it”…”Christian love towards God or towards man is an affair of the will. If we
are trying to do His will we are obeying the commandment ‘Thou shalt love the
Lord thy God.’ “
Of course one needs to be a Christian and have the Holy Spirit working in them to have the ability to love like this. But the whole thought tied in very nicely with what I had been discussing last week with the group of guys I meet with. All of the harder things in life are the ones which are most fulfilling. It’s hard to get out of bed early in the morning and pray, but you are always glad you did it instead of sleeping. Or its painful jumping in a very cold pool to do laps, but the exercise is worth it. Just like it might be hard to love someone you don’t feel immediate affection for, but once you have done the act the affection will follow. Of course he also tied on the disclaimer that doing the act just so you are seen doing it is really just pride, and is pretty useless. I would recommend reading the chapter on “charity” in Mere Christianity for more complete thoughts on the subject.