Jonathan Larson’s Pulitzer prize-winning revolutionary rock opera ‘Rent’ tells the story of a group of Bohemians struggling to express themselves through their art and “measuring their lives in love” in New York’s East Village in the late 1980’s. One of the songs ‘Seasons of Love’ (see video below) wonders if love can be measured:
In daylights? In sunsets? In midnights? In cups of coffee? In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife? … In truths that she learned or in times that he cried? In bridges he burned or the way that she died?
Feelings and emotions are often used as a guide to measure how much we love someone, but love is a ‘verb’ (which means it’s a doing word) and love is first and foremost a commitment. It is also sacrificial and costly. Whilst that can be beautifully reflected in a romantic relationship, it is often the unseen sacrificial love of: a parent for child; a friend to a friend; a random act of kindness; a fire fighter who risks his life to save a life; a soldier who lays his life down for a colleague; or the Christian police officer who lays his life down his life for a hostage as Lieutenant-Colonel Arnaud Beltrame did in France just recently. For the Christian, we measure love in the way Jesus laid down his life on the cross.
The Bible invites us to strive to understand the measurements of God’s limitless love for us: “And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is” (Ephesians 3:18).
Many of you would agree that more love is desperately needed in our world today. However, love, for many, is self-centred, but God’s definition of love is selfless. A Bible reading often used at weddings reminds us that: “Love does not demand its own way” (1 Corinthians 13:5). Whilst love can’t be measured as clear as inches or miles, it can still be measured. These four ‘measurements’ of love should be present in every healthy relationship (are they present in yours?):
Face to Face
When someone truly loves you, they will make ‘face time’ a priority. There’s no substitute for it. No amount of text messages, instagrams or emails can compare to the moments you spend looking a loved one in the eyes. When we love someone, we will make it a priority to be near them.
Side by Side
Love is strengthened through partnership and it thrives when you can walk into any situation hand-in-hand and ‘side-by-side’. Even in moments of disagreement, love compels us to work together. When someone loves you, they’ll be walking ‘side-by-side’ – whatever the cost.
Back to Back
When someone loves you, he/she will ‘have your back.’ When you’re ‘back-to-back’ you’re ready to face the challenges life throws your way. You’re always willing to defend and, even at personal risk, protect those you love.
Hand to Foot
Jesus showed us many practical examples of what it means to love. He taught his disciples to love through acts of service. He washed their feet and told them to do the same. ‘Hand to Foot’ represents an attitude of selflessly serving others out of love. When we serve someone only to be served in return, we’re only ‘networking’ but when we serve and ask nothing in return, we’re showing true love.
The song ‘Seasons of Love’ also includes the line: “Remember that love is a gift from up above.“ And so it is. How we need God’s sacrificial love in our lives – a love that can change the world in which we live. Trusting in Jesus, and receiving the love God has for us, is the beginning of healing in our lives and the start of the most loving (and meaningful) relationship we could ever have.
May God’s richest blessing be upon you, as you seek to ‘measure love’ in the coming weeks.
This is a copy of my article for the April 2018 edition of the Billericay ‘Around Town Magazine’