Culture of Love

Members of the Youth A Blaze at CMF church in Kinoya perform a resurrection drama during the Church service yesterday. Picture RAMA

Members of the Youth A Blaze at CMF church in Kinoya perform a resurrection drama during the Church service yesterday. Picture RAMA

WE conclude the Season of Lent, with Holy Week and the celebration of the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

This has been a time of spiritual reflection, personal discipline and sacrifice as Christians all around the world contemplate the love of God, demonstrated in the sacrifice of God’s only begotten Son.

God’s grace, God’s unmerited, unconditional and transformational love, manifested in Jesus, was made available to us through the incarnation, death and resurrection of Jesus.

During the various crisis, oppression and challenges faced by people in the first century, Jesus offered another way — a better way — loving God and loving your neighbour.

This Easter, I invite all Fijians to reflect on love and the need for a culture of love in our society.

One of the most well-known Bible verses is John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

At a time when our planet is in crisis, there is a need to love and care for our land and oceans. God loves the world. He loves all of his creation — the Pacific golden plover bird (dilio), the hermit crab (kasikasi), the turtles (vonu) and the dolphin (babale). He loves the rivers, the lakes, the sandy beaches, coral reefs and soaring mountains. He loves creation, and he calls us to love and care for it too.

Beyond the political and international fronts to address climate change, we are called to love and care for all which God created. While there are many examples of how we have failed and continued to do so, the message of Easter reminds us that we can seek forgiveness for our hypocrisy and arrogant attitudes towards the environment and start to act and live ways that affirm our care for all creations.

Our love for God and God’s creation fosters sustainable living, inspires us to protect the environment of which we are a part of in recognition of the dangers of degrading the land and ocean.

The Greek word for “world”, used in the John 3:16 passage is kosmos. “God so loved the Cosmos” – not simply our small, vulnerable, blue planet, but the sun, moon and stars, the Milky Way galaxy and other galaxies hidden out in the Big Dipper, Quasars, Supernovas, black holes and dark matter. Those are also God’s world.

Christ Jesus’ self-sacrifice, which we commemorate on 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 Christ.

The everlasting God of the universe sent His Son to die on our behalf. It is a challenge to love and cross all boundaries we made for ourselves — like 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 think less of ourselves and think more of others.

Recently a colleague of mine said that our 21st century societies in Fiji are in dire need of ‘love’ and to live a ‘culture of love’. I agree with him in that our societies today are in perilous times, in which of ‘love’ is weak on every facest of life. We are faced with this sad reality on a daily basis.

One of the best descriptions of love is found in St Paul’s letter to the church in Corinith, described as agape in Greek or unconditional love (1st Corinthians 13:1-13).

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 (towards God, neighbour, creation), then they are meaningless. If our achievements are not results of love, then they are worthless. Without love, we are nothing and we will gain nothing.

In a society that practices a culture of love:

Love is patient. We are becoming too impatient. We want food fast, fast internet, fast services and fast deals. We are also impatient relationally.

This practice of instant self-gratification plays out by being demanding, bulldosing people and pushing too hard. There is a need for us to be more patient in our interactions with others and in our expectations — being patient during simple situations like being stuck in the early morning Nausori — Suva corridor traffic. Let our “Fiji time” attitude be not seen as laziness but as patience.

Love is kind. Kindness is shown through actions, words, emotions and much more. In your relationships, do you use your presence and words to show kindness, or do you tear others down? Kindness, however, is not to be equated with giving someone what he or she wants. Kindness is not weakness.

Sometimes love must be tough. Kindness is not just merely compassion but also calling attention to and addressing destructive patterns. Kindness may mean saying no to a spoiled child. Kindness may mean reporting a crime committed by a friend.

Kindness means to withhold what harms, as well as give what heals. Love is kind, but often tough.

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.

You are loved by God through Jesus the crucified Lord. He Has risen from the dead, so His love has conquered.

Live your life sacrificially on behalf of others, “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28)

I urge all Fijians, especially those who are of the Christian faith, to recommit themselves to practising and living a culture of love.