“Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”
Jesus replied, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’”
It seems to me that the Bible and pop culture are on two different planets when it comes to the subject of love.
In pop culture, love is something that happens to a helpless victim. One “falls” into unplanned love. It may be the most fulfilling experience, and it may be torment. No matter, you have to go there. Linguistically, pop culture prefers the passive voice to express an experience in love: you are touched, swept off your feet, carried away, or captivated. Being in love is like the feeling of floating or free-fall.
Uncountable movies express how love acts upon its victim: “I want you to get swept away. I want you to levitate” (Meet Joe Black). “Suddenly the world seems such a perfect place, suddenly it moves with such a perfect grace” (Moulin Rouge). “For one moment you get this amazing gift. And you wanna laugh and you wanna cry, ‘cause you feel so lucky that you’ve found it, and so scared that it’ll go away all at the same time” (Never Been Kissed).
In our culture love cannot be planned, chosen, or controlled. Amore hits lovers like Dean Martin’s moon in the eye or Cupid’s arrow in the heart. The seduction of the potion is both spontaneous and overwhelming.
Hollywood’s portrayal of romantic love is consistent: “You can’t help who you love, you’re not supposed to” (Save the Last Dance). “Love is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake” (Captain Corelli’s Mandolin). “You have bewitched me, body and soul, and I love and love and love you” (Pride and Prejudice). “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard” (Annie). In pop culture a couple often falls in love on sight without ever speaking to each other. The couple becomes passionate without asking practical questions of each other, such as name, employment, beliefs, or sexual history.
And Christians? Has the Lord sent His holy archer to smite us with an arrow that makes us love Him? Not according to the Bible. Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God.” It is a commandment, not a potion. The Bible commands us to love a full spectrum of persons, including God, our spouses, children, parents, the Christian brotherhood, our neighbors, and even our enemies. These are all commands. It doesn’t matter if we don’t feel inspired. We are to make a commitment to loving because it’s right in the eyes of God, and because it expresses His grace.