Is Love A Feeling?
In 1964, the singing group, The Righteous Brothers, recorded the hit single “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling”. One reason the song was a smash is because it so accurately reflected one of the mantras of the 1960’s — Free Love. Love was touted as something that could be openly expressed and physically demonstrated without any need for a deeper, long lasting commitment. If you felt like it, you were free to do it. And when the feelings left, you moved on.
That attitude, while symbolic of the 60’s, has been around as long as mankind has. It represents a misunderstanding of just what love really is. Is love a feeling or is it something else? If I don’t feel “warm and fuzzy” when I’m around someone, do I really love them? Or, as the song suggests, when I no longer have that loving feeling in a relationship, should I assume no love remains and the relationship is over?
As good as romantic love may feel, it pales in comparison to God’s kind of love. God’s love is not dependent on feelings which naturally come and go according to our circumstances. It’s not conditioned by the object of its affection, but rather it’s rooted in the subject, the one who loves. It’s far more volitional than it is emotional, though there are emotions that accompany God’s kind of love.
Our theme verse for this year’s Bold Faith Initiative, Matthew 22:39, says we are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. Recall that this is a commandment, not a suggestion. And, it’s not just any command. Jesus said its second only to loving God first. Commandments require a response of obedience, whether you feel like it or not. God doesn’t temper his expectations of us by how we’re feeling at the moment. He mandates action and expects us to respond!
The people around you each day (your neighbors), need to know God loves them; that God is genuinely concerned about their wellbeing, and that he is willing to help them. And, you and I know what our neighbors may not yet understand – that God intends to use us as conduits of his love. He wants to love our neighbors through us so that they know that God cares for them because his people care for them.
Remember, your ability to love your neighbor is not determined by what they do, or who they are, or by how you feel about them. By faith, we choose to concern ourselves with their wellbeing and do what love does – reach out to them. And often, when we do reach out in faith, “loving feelings” will follow. Not the superficial, “warm and fuzzy” emotions the world is looking for, but more substantial things like genuine compassion, patience and concern.