Perfect love, can there be such a thing?
There’s no way. There’s nothing perfect, and no one is perfect. Right?
Perfect love simply cannot be; consequently, we have to slog our way through dysfunctional relationships with family, friends, at school and at work.
Really? Yuck. There has to be a better way.
Most people have an opinion as to what love is, how it works or how it feels.
Some people look for love in the wrong places, from unworthy souls and in the wrong ways. Others are unfortunate enough to have to fall into it since they do not possess a clear understanding of love’s character, motives and manifestations.
I have met dear hearts who have been “in love” with another person; however, that love was unrequited, and the one who assumed they loved the other person suffered emotional damage. In reality, their “love” may not have been more than a passing fancy toward or infatuation with the object of their emotions.
Being a bi-vocational pastor, I have served in colleges as a financial aid officer, admissions representative and, more particularly, as dean of students. I have also served for many years as a high school substitute teacher and have personally witnessed many young couples who were ambivalent to the true nature of love that John Wesley and the Apostle John both termed as Perfect Love.
“Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love” (1 John 4:17-18, King James Version).
Misunderstanding love is not solely reserved for the young; many adults also act out a skewed understanding of love. Getting older does not presume either becoming wiser or living unselfishly; abusive adults are disconnected from perfect love for others. Selfishness, self-promotion and carnality are all disqualifiers for perfect love.
Maybe a definition of terms is in order just now. The classical biblical text for love is found in 1 Corinthians 13 (1912 Weymouth New Testament):
“Love is patient and kind. Love knows neither envy nor jealousy. Love is not forward and self-assertive, nor boastful and conceited.”
The world has taught us that love is about oneself and personal interests rather than a self-sacrificing expression of unreserved giving that seeks nothing in return.
Don’t run from the word perfect; it is not an unreachable goal, though there are many examples to the contrary.
Love can be perfect without being perfect. It speaks of the motive of the heart and the effort set forth to accomplish that desire.
For example, a small child may draw a picture of a farm scene, especially for you, in which the animals, landscape and buildings are one-dimensional and disproportionate. It is in effect very imperfect, but when with great joy and pride that child hand-delivers his or her little colorful creation into your hands, you reply, “Thank you, honey. It’s perfect.”
The gift of the presence of the Holy Spirit in one’s life brings perfect love. The first fruit of the spirit listed in Galatians 5:22 is love.
To truly possess and exercise perfect love, one must be cleansed and filled with the spirit of God. It is the hope of the Gospel; it is God’s plan for us, and it is indeed why Jesus suffered for us.
“And Can It Be,” written by Charles Wesley, offers some insight into the perfect love of Christ as exemplified in his relentless giving of himself.
“Amazing love! how can it be
that thou, my God, should die for me?
‘Tis mystery all! Th’Immortal dies!
Who can explore His strange design?
In vain, the firstborn seraph tries
to sound the depths of love divine!
Do you, right now, possess and walk in the light of perfect love? Does your wife or your husband or your children believe you have perfect love for them? You can; it is the gift of the Holy Ghost.
This is God’s plan to make all of our lives better; our homes and community would only benefit by perfect love.
Frausto is pastor of Greenfield Weslayan Church. This column is written by local clergy members.