“Love is patient, love is kind.
It is not jealous, it is not pompous,
It is not inflated, it is not rude,
it does not seek its own interests,
it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury,
it does not rejoice over wrongdoing
but rejoices with the truth.
It bears all things, believes all things,
hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails.”
Truth. In the generic sense, I am a skeptic. I don’t hold a philosophical position that knowledge is impossible, but I do tend toward greater trust in rational thought and verifiable data. I am slow to accept popular opinions just because they are popular and I question common assumptions. I would probably be the guy that wants to put my finger in the wound in Jesus’s side. I am suspicious of pat or easy answers, emotional decisions, and extraordinary claims. I cringe at superstition, secret knowledge, or magical powers. I explore and test ideas from multiple perspectives, evaluate possibilities from every angle, and rejoice in concrete solutions. I desire to learn, expand my knowledge, and do what works.
Beauty. At the same time, I am an artist (a painter, specifically). I see beauty all around and can be brought to tears by a sunset. I long to create, find the deeper meaning, and experience the symbolic. I can imagine the smells, sounds, and feelings of a painting. I would probably be the guy during the last supper reclining at Jesus’s side. I am passionate, changed by experience, and open to profound insights. My life is enriched by poetry, music, architecture, fiction, nature, photography, drama, dance, and craft. I scoff at the ordinary, mediocre, and boring. I can be cut to the core. I seek the transcendent, unique, and unexpected. I desire to feel, expand my experience, and do what transforms.
It’s amazing that I haven’t ended up as a pragmatic atheist or a casual drug user (there but for the grace of God go I!). What has made the difference? What has integrated these disparate facets of my personality? Only love.
The one true and beautiful thing I have found is love. Or, maybe I should say, love found me. From the origin of the universe to its destiny, love provides a coherent principle for understanding existence. To contemplate the possibility of a deity, love provides a robust and consistent identity. To imagine the possibility of God becoming a human, love provides the capacity and the purpose. To understand suffering, love provides the connection. To define the human person, love provides the terms. Love can answer all the questions.
But even more than that, we know that we are made for love. All of our aspirations and dreams can be fulfilled in love. Our wounds and imperfections can be healed by love. Our decisions and actions can be empowered through love. Our eyes are raised, our hearts set free, and our spirits enflamed because of love. Our experience teaches us that limited human love is good, but not enough. The only love that can satiate our desire is an infinite and eternal love. The only love that fulfills us is a perfect love. We need a divine love. It is our source, our means, and our end. “God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him” (1 John 4:16). Love is true and beautiful. And love never fails.