2018-02-14 / Columns

LEDGER COLUMNIST

A different kind of love
CODY SOSSAMON
Ledger Publisher

Today is Valentine’s Day.

A day when we celebrate romantic love.

Hearts and cupids are everywhere.

The celebration originates with early Christian martyrs named Valentine, with one of them being Valentine of Rome who was martyred in 269.

According to Wikipedia, the emphasis switched from martyred saints in 1382 with the first recorded association of Valentine’s Day with romantic love is in “Parlement of Foules” by Geoffrey Chaucer. Chaucer wrote:

“For this was on seynt Volantynys day

Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make”.

(“For this was on St. Valentine’s Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate.”)

This poem was written to honor the first anniversary of the engagement of King Richard II of England to Anne of Bohemia.

These days, however, it’s difficult, very difficult, for me to think about love. Don’t get me wrong, I have much to love in my life and am much-loved.

All around me, though, I see, read and hear hate.

Many of the vile spewings are found on Facebook. And if not there, on your nightly news. And if not there, in your DAILY newspaper (and some weeklies!) Or on the radio. Or around the water cooler.

I quit watching the network news shows months ago because it seemed most of the 30 minutes was filled with allegations (from both sides of the aisle) that oozed with hate. You could see it on the faces and hear it in the voices.

It seems none of us can engage in civil discourse about the many, many issues facing our country — and our world.

Hate surrounds us. And hate breeds hate.

I can only go with “haters gonna hate” for so long. (The phrase means “I’m just going to ignore the cruel and hateful comments of other people.”)

As the song says, “What the world needs now, is love, sweet love.”

Not necessarily romantic love. Another kind.

Agape — universal, unconditional love that transcends and persists regardless of circumstance.

I know this is too much to ask, but can’t we at least TRY to be more civil to one another? For starters, we can cease all of the ranting and bickering on Facebook. Before you hit “POST,” think about what you just typed.

Are you just trying to make others mad? Why? Why? Why?

My pastor, Jon Van Deventer, ends each sermon with these words:

“Our sole reason for being the Church is about love. That’s why we’re here, and what we’re about, because the Law of God is this: you shall love the Lord your God with ALL of your heart; ALL of your mind; ALL of your soul; ALL of your strength. This is something that we simply cannot do in our own strength, apart from the presence of the Spirit of Christ. From this foundation, we are to love our neighbor, whether our neighbor is near to us or far from us, whether our neighbor is like us or not like us, whether our neighbor is likeable or not likeable. Go from this place out into the world, and live by this Law as you go, for this is the Law of God.”

He explained it thusly: Basically, it’s my interpretational blending together of Luke 10:27 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself” and John 13:34 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”

Matthew 7:12 is commonly known as the Golden Rule — “Do to others what you want them to do to you,” which is grounded in the principle of loving your neighbor as you love yourself.

Dr. Leonard Sweet cites John 13:34 as “The Platinum Rule” — Love others as Jesus loves us, rather than loving others in the way we would choose to be loved.

Near or far. Like us or not like us. Likeable or not likeable.

Agape.

Agape is something of the understanding, creative, redemptive goodwill for all men. It is a love that seeks nothing in return. It is an overflowing love; it’s what theologians would call the love of God working in the lives of men. And when you rise to love on this level, you begin to love men, not because they are likeable, but because God loves them. - Martin Luther King, Jr.

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