Those of us “of a certain age” will remember the title of this Tina Turner classic song and maybe even recall belting out the words with a group of friends while cruising in our cars with the windows rolled down. (Guess you can tell that this was me). But the lyrics of this song of soul don’t even come close to answering the question which is on my mind daily now that I am grown up (mostly) and seeking a more contemplative path.
As long as I am strolling down memory lane, I will also share a memory of the Methodist Church Vacation Bible School where we sloppily painted little plaster wall hangings which bore lush roses and the words “God is Love.” Why that is such is vivid memory eludes me completely; however, I can recall this little plaque and its words with no problem. At the time I remember thinking that I wasn’t quite sure why both of the words “God” and “Love” were on this little plaque since I had never heard them spoken in the same breath or even illustrated anywhere in my church life, home life or social life. God is Love? How can a feeling and the Supreme Being of my Sunday School class be one and the same? What’s love got to do with God?
Fast forward a decade or two or more (!) and I think I that I might be circling in on an answer. Through the teachings of Unity, we hear that there is one Power and one Presence in the Universe, God the Good, Omnipotent. Yes, we hear this; however, nary a mention of Love in Unity Principle #1. We look elsewhere for that. We also learn that while God is all there is, there is nothing but God present in our lives. And yes, we can assimilate, feel and believe this.
But where does the feeling of love enter the picture? Or could it be much more than a feeling? The word “love” is mentioned 310 times in the King James Version of the Bible and is woven into stories in several different forms. There are 4 forms of love illustrated in the history and teachings in the Bible. Eros (erotic love as in Song of Solomon), Storge (familial love as in the story of Noah), Philia (deep friendship as between the disciples), and Agape (unconditional love of God for his beloved children) are the 4 flavors of love, each with varying degrees of intensity. But we are also told that GOD IS LOVE (1 John 4:8). Not just a feeling any longer.
This is a game changer. Our greatest teacher, Jesus the Christ, has instructed us to love each other, to love God and to know that God IS love. And if that isn’t enough to get our attention, we also learn in 1 John 4:16 that “God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” Pretty clear, isn’t it?
Therefore, if love is much more than an emotion, but IS and exists and has evidence of being, we have no doubt that God is Love. Putting 2 and 2 together then we can know absolutely that there is only one power and one presence in our lives and in our universe, God the Good and therefore the one power and one presence that exists in our lives is also LOVE. And that this unconditional, absolute love is us, in us and expresses as us through our authentic, true selves. I believe this to be true.
Now this might be a hard one to know and feel and embody. If God (love) is all there is, why is there still anger, unrest, killing and all the rest that emblazons the news broadcasts? Could it be that our false selves/egoic selves might be doing some sneaking into the world to hijack the true love that is the reality of who God is and we are? This I also believe to be true.
We are spiritual beings (created in love) who occupy physical bodies provided for us as vehicles. In these we can express and model the love of God in our world as well as some darker attributes. And the kicker is that we have free will and choices in how we demonstrate the gifts that are ours to have, live and share. We can believe and embrace what is our gift and our purpose (LOVE) or we can be overcome by that darn protective ego which serves to keep us safe yet cloud the reality of who really have come here to be (love.) We come into the world equipped with a large cranial nerve called the vagus nerve which links our hearts and our brains and runs both ways. The management and processing of emotions happens via the vagal nerve between the heart, brain and gut, which is why we have a strong gut reaction to intense mental and emotional states. We can primarily live from our hearts which sends emotions to the brain or we can live in our egoic brain which sends stimuli to the heart. Which is it
As students of New Thought, we strive to live whole heartedly as we receive words of love from teachers, mystics, scholars and those who have gone before us. It is ours to choose. Live a life where we know that God IS love and feel that it is our gift to move, breath and be or to exist is hidden under layers of ego driven stimuli. Our choice. But at the end of the day, we are certain that we know “what’s love got to do with it.” Everything.