Not All Love is Blind
Chaucer said it first in his Canterbury Tales. But it didn’t catch on as a popular phrase until, as with so many others, Shakespeare said it:
But love is blind and lovers cannot see
The pretty follies that themselves commit;
That’s from The Merchant of Venice. But Will S. also turns the phrase in Two Gentlemen of Verona. And Henry V. And Romeo and Juliet. Of course.
And what is meant by the phrase — then and now — is one of two interpretations: 1) We are often unable or unwilling to see faults in those whom we love; or 2) True love ignores appearances and establishes relationship on less superficial qualities. Science backs up the first meaning: A study in 2004 by University College London found that feelings of love suppressed the activity of the areas of the brain that control critical thought.
However, as I read Paul’s great ode to love in 1 Corinthians 13 and as I observe the actions and attitudes of our Great Lover, Jesus, I discover that a certain kind of love, agape love, doesn’t obscure our sight; it clarifies our sight. Agape love sees all the things, all the imperfections, all the faults, all the sin. And hangs in there anyway. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things. Love endures all the things. It is not fooled. Rather, it rejoices in the truth. Love is the greatest gift, says Paul. Greater even than hope. Greater even than faith! Wow!
Our next worship series describes the extent to which love is willing to go. Jesus loves his Jewish faith and tradition, but he does not stay mired in the synagogue. He refuses to let obedience to the law trump his urge to show compassion, heal the sick, accept the stranger, and call the oddest folks to join him in his loving work. Jesus took his gifts and turned them out to the crowds, and wherever he went, a crowd was sure to follow. It was not blind love. No “pretty folly.” Jesus saw the disciples, the crowds, even his enemies with crystal-clear love. And he was not blind to what the price of that love was going to be. Love caused him to see all the people. And still he bore it all and endured it all.
If the gifts of God reside now in Christ’s body, the Church, then it seems that what we get to do with those gifts, by the power of the same Spirit, is to See All the People. (The first person who reads this and calls the church office IN PERSON — no phone messages! — and says the phrase “See All the People” will win a $15 Starbucks gift card from me personally.) Who are the crowds right around us that Jesus wants to go out to and see clearly? What is our community really like? What is it likely to become? What can the agape love of Christ help us see more clearly as we drive, walk, shop, eat, exercise, work and play in our community?
May our love of Christ become more like Christ’s love for us! Jesus has seen us clearly. All the imperfections, all the faults, all the sin. And he hangs with us anyway, bearing with us, enduring all our follies. He loves us and sees us. And that utterly clear, truthful love has changed my life forever. How could I do anything but go, in his name, and love the world that he loves?
I hope to SEE you Sunday,