Culture of love

Peniasi Gade Jr plays the part of Jesus with other St Vincent de Paul Catholic Parish youths acting as soldiers during their Easter drama along the Nausori streets in 2017. Picture: JONACANI LALAKOBAU

Peniasi Gade Jr plays the part of Jesus with other St Vincent de Paul Catholic Parish youths acting as soldiers during their Easter drama along the Nausori streets in 2017. Picture: JONACANI LALAKOBAU

AS the Christian community approaches Easter, marking the end of the season of Lent and

and the celebration of the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ; the president of the Methodist Church in Fiji, the Rev Dr Epineri Vakadewavosa is inviting all Fijians to reflect on the need for a culture of love in our society.

Reflecting on one of the most well-known bible verses, John 3:16, Mr Vakadewavosa writes in his Easter message that at a time when our planet and society is in crisis, there is a need to love and care for one another and for our land and oceans.

“Beyond the political and international work to address climate change, we are called to love and care for all which God has created. While there are many examples of how we have and continue to fail to do so in Fiji, the message of Easter reminds us that we can seek forgiveness for our hypocrisy and arrogant attitudes to the environment and start to act and live in ways that affirm both human and non-human life on earth.

“Our love for God and God’s creation calls us to sustainable living, protection of the environment, of which we are a part; recognising the dangerous attitudes and practices which degrade the land and ocean and stopping them.

“Christ Jesus’ self-sacrifice, which we commemorate at Easter is a reminder that we are loved with an everlasting love by the everlasting God of the universe who has revealed himself through the crucified Jesus.

“The everlasting God of the universe sent his son to die on our behalf. It is a challenge that our love must cross the boundaries we have made for ourselves: ethnicity, religion, political affiliation, culture, status etc.

“Experiencing God’s love, we are called to express God’s love in the world. We are not called to a grasping, power-seeking attitude, but to the self-giving extension of ourselves on behalf of others.”

Reflecting on 1st Corinthians Chapter 13, Mr Vakadewavosa writes: “We must remember that love is not merely an emotion, but an action. If our words, our ‘truths’ are not uttered out of love, then it is just noise, often angry noise. If our actions are not demonstrative of love (for God, neighbour, creation), then they are meaningless. If our achievement is not a result of our acting in love, then it is worthless. Without love, we say nothing; we are nothing; we gain nothing.”

In his message he pointed out that in a society that practises a culture of love.

Love is patient: There is a need for us to be more patient in our interactions with others and in our expectations — from something as simple as the early morning traffic in the Nausori-Suva corridor, to allowing the natural time for growth and maturity.

Let our “Fiji time” be not seen as laziness but as patience.

Love is kind. Kindness is not weakness. Kindness is not only compassion but calling attention and addressing destructive patterns. Kindness means to withhold what harms, as well as give what heals. Love is kind, but often tough.

Love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude: God calls us to serve others and be gracious toward them. There is a graciousness in love which never forgets that courtesy, tact, and politeness are important.

Love does not insist on its own way. Ours is a society in which self-seeking is not only tolerated, it is even advocated. A self-absorbed narcissistic person cannot act in love. Love is not possessive, demanding, stubborn, or dominating. It is always willing to defer to others. At the end of the day, this is empathy and a willingness to see from the other person’s perspective in a relationship.

Love is not irritable or resentful. The person who seizes upon something and twists it to make someone look bad knows nothing of agape (unconditional love), for love is not touchy.

Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. Truth must make our love discriminating, and love must make our truth compassionate and forgiving. If our actions are one with agape love, we will always welcome truth, never resist it.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things: Love is not naïve, but love is powerful. Love protects other people. Love is always ready to allow for extenuating circumstances, to give the other person the benefit of the doubt, to believe the best about people. Love always trusts. Love hopes and expects the best. Love never loses faith in other people and gives up on them but remain faithful to them, in spite of their shortcomings. Love won’t stop loving, even in the face of rejection. Love takes action to shake up an intolerable situation. Love looks beyond the present to the hope of what might be in the future.

“This Easter, as we celebrate God’s love for us, and all creation, may we commit to love those around us the way we believe God loves us (1 John 4:19), whether they believe in God or not.”

* The views expressed are not of this newspaper.

* On Sunday, mesage from Archbishop Peter Loy Chong.