‘Love is the future eternal light shining in the present.’
Imagine a word that everyone knew but no one ever explained. Imagine if that word named an experience that everyone was supposed to have but no one could explain where to find.
Almost everyone in the world seemed to want more of it; the zenith of human experience, the essence of all the world’s religions. Almost every popular song is about what it is like to find it, to express it or to lose it. We have such a word, and the word is LOVE. Love is a word that has come to have many meanings.
I appreciate many of you weren’t born in the early 1980s, but I’m sure you have all heard the song I want to know what love is, by Foreigner. I think one reason why the song resonates with people on such a gut level is because it’s the cry of someone who feels they’ve been left out of the conversation where everyone else seems to take love for granted.
‘I wanna know what love is. I want you to show me. I wanna feel what love is. I know you can show me.’
Love is essential. We need it. But how do we know if we have found it? The Apostle Paul starts describing to us what love looks like in practice. What it looks like in real life.
‘Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things’ (1 Corinthians 13:4-13).
The love described in Corinthians is a love we experience as God’s unshakeable grasp upon you and me, upon our lives. It is the source of our greatest security. We love, because God loved us first. That’s the bedrock, the foundation of the whole thing. Everything else in life is partial and destined to slide away. But love, that kind of Christ-like fundamental and unconditional love, lasts forever. There’s an eternal quality to love itself.
‘Though heaven and earth pass away,’ Jesus tells his disciples, ‘my Word will last forever.’ And that is symbolic of love. Theologian Karl Barth says, ‘It is in love that faith and hope are active. Thus love is the “greatest of these”. It is the future eternal light shining in the present.’
Love is not limited by us, nor limited to us. Love is not a limited resource; it comes from God, the source of all things. As freely as we have received, we are to give. So when everything else is washed away in the sands of time, God’s love will still stand. And it means we, too, can stand always and forever.
Easter is a reminder of God’s deep love for us. For in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus we see God’s love as self-giving, nurturing, hopeful, honest, steadfast and expansive; the love of God is embodied by Jesus.
This is the message of Easter – Jesus came into the world to bring God’s message of unconditional love and forgiveness. Easter Sunday reminds us that nothing can ever separate us from the love of God. Perfect love and undying love could not be killed on a cross and could not be entombed, but can rise from a horrible death filled with peace to share with all. God transformed the darkest moment into the greatest act of love the world has ever known.
Rev Nalin Perera, Wesley College Chaplain