Love is the Answer

Young couples in love promise each other that their love for each other will never die. Older onlookers may urge  caution. Of course, there are lots of older couples in our community who are still very much in love after years and years of marriage, but for every marriage that succeeds another falls by the wayside. The problem with our love for each other is that subconsciously it can be conditional. We can love a partner who is young and beautiful, but will our love survive when that partner is old and toothless and out of shape? We can love a partner who is successful and dynamic and rich, but will our love stagnate when that same partner is out of work, weary and penniless? We might love a partner who is always cheerful and makes us smile, but will our love fade if that partner becomes clinically depressed or seriously ill? When    problems rear their head, does love walk out of the door? We wouldn’t like to admit it at the outset of a relationship, but human love can be conditional.

God’s love of course is unconditional … or is it? In today’s gospel Jesus says, “If you keep my commandments you will abide in my love…” does that sound like a condition? Are we being told that whilst we are keeping God’s commandments God will love us, but as soon as we are sinful that love will be withdrawn?

The important thing for us to understand is that God’s love cannot be fickle in the same way that ours is. Human love, especially if we are a little immature, can be something we simply bestow on each other. God’s love is a state of being. God’s love is simply there and doesn’t go away. It’s us that chooses whether or not to accept or reject God’s love by the way we choose to live our lives. We can choose to live good lives and by doing so we will remain in a loving relationship with God, or we can make poor decisions and step out of that loving relationship. Living by God’s commandments isn’t about following a list of strict rules in return for God’s love, it’s about sharing the joy God plans for us by living in a certain way.

Those of us who have fallen out of that loving   relationship with God haven’t done so on purpose. Few of us consciously make poor decisions… we are all human after all, and we all make mistakes. For those of us who are in danger of losing their way in life, Jesus give us one important guideline “This I command you … to love one another.” The next time you have a tricky decision to make or a dilemma to solve, ask yourself the all-important question. “Is God’s love for me, and my love for neighbour pointing out the answer?”