As noted nearly a month ago (why does time fly twice as fast during the summer?), I’m reading The Four Loves and wanted to share a couple thoughts about something that I always seem to keep learning.
I didn’t even make it through the introduction before realizing that this was a book that I’m going to love and will probably be quoting at community group five years from now. As friends tell me, CS Lewis (Lewis) will do that to you.
Anyway… Lewis starts his book by saying that initially he was only going to write about two loves: Gift Love and Need Love to show that God is love. Lewis writes that gift love is the love that propels our fathers to work each day in order to support our families. Need love is the love that drives us into the arms of our fathers when Valificent enters the scene in Disney’s animated version of Sleeping Beauty (that did happen to you, right?). He found, however, that there was more to explore and putting things in a ‘Need Love versus Gift Love’ box wouldn’t really allow love justice. As Lewis writes, “Every time I have tried to think the thing out along these lines I have ended in puzzles and contradictions. The reality is more complicated than I supposed.’
Well Lewis, I suppose so. Even as I read the first few pages of Lewis describing what he wanted to write, I quickly wanted to join him in his natural pull of putting need love in the “non-love” category. It is after-all so NEEDY. It takes and uses and never ceases, right? Thinking about this made me think about the type of love I express on a reoccurring basis when I have my quiet time in the morning. With the assistance of the Holy Spirit and (let’s be honest) some coffee, I spend my morning reading the Bible and scrawling out prayers only to end every entry with, “I love you. ♥ Amen.”
Which of the two loves is this? Since I’m being honest, I’ll admit that most of the time, this is often Non-thinking love. God, I non-think, you’ve given your only Son and sent him to Earth to live without sin, be ridiculed, murdered, and then be resurrected so that I can have a personal relationship with you. Of course, I love you. Who wouldn’t?
Uh-oh. The danger of this love is that it is neither gift love or need love but a non-love. It can be, at times, an obligatory love expressed out of formality… it reminds me of a particularly painful conversation that I had with my dad when I was five. I had just come home from a visit at my grandmother’s house and told him that I only loved my grandma because she bought me stuff. His jaw could have hit the floor and I remember wincing at my selfishness. Twenty-one years later I have somewhat grown up. I love my grandmother because of her character and love for other people and there are definitely a plethora of relationships where my love was not purchased. For some reason though, I am still tempted to hang the ‘For Sale’ sign on my heart when it comes to loving Jesus.
Lewis writes that ‘man’s love for God, from the very nature of the case, must always be largely, and must often be entirely a Need-love. This is obvious when [Christians] implore forgiveness for [their] sins and or support in [their] tribulations. But in the long run it is perhaps even more apparent in [their] growing – for it ought to be growing – awareness that [their] whole being by its very nature is one vast need; incomplete, preparatory, empty yet clustered, crying out for Him who can untie things that are now knotted together and tie up things that are still dangling loose. ‘
So… my non-love reflects my need love for Jesus’ continuing redemption and transformation in my life which He graciously responds to and move towards with His gift love for me. I don’t deserve it but He knows I need it.
Jesus, I love (aka need) you. ♥ Amen.
Psalm 5:7/ But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house. I will bow down toward your holy temple in the fear of you.