Joni Mitchell wrote of love’s illusions in an honest song called, Both Sides Now. But you will notice my title for this piece deals with delusions. Subtle difference there.
A delusion, according to WordWeb is “an erroneous belief that is held in the face of evidence to the contrary.” And they say a belief is “Any cognitive content held as true.” Both of those definitions apply readily to the feeling, emotion, or perception of love.
When we encounter Love, we become hopeless romantics, allowing reason to sprout angels’ wings and fly away. Ms. Mitchell’s three stanzas devoted to love in Both Sides Now go as follows:
Moons and Junes and Ferris wheels
The dizzy dancing way you feel
As ev'ry fairy tale comes real
I've looked at love that way
But now it's just another show
You leave 'em laughing when you go
And if you care, don't let them know
Don't give yourself away
I've looked at love from both sides now
From give and take, and still somehow
It's love's illusions I recall
I really don't know love at all
What are those poetical, two sides of love? Are they the only, true, sides of love? What a tragedy, if love were truly bracketed by crazy, dizzying romance on one side, and betrayal on the other.
Whom To Love
Jesus made an important statement regarding love in Matthew 5:43-46, that included neither infatuation nor infidelity. In fact, he updated the old commandment to love your neighbor, and its corollary, to hate your enemy, to the far more difficult, “Love your enemy, and pray for those who persecute you....” Does that seem daunting? Try, “impossible,” without help from God’s designated Helper, his Holy Spirit.
“Love your enemy,” hmmmmm? What does that commandment infer about loving ones family? Ones spouse? Ones brethren? Are they not the very ones we so often treat as the enemy?
In Matthew 22:34-40, answering a lawyer’s trick question, Jesus specified God’s two great commandments, which come down to, “Love God completely,” and then, “Love your neighbor as self.” The lawyer and his cronies couldn’t add a thing, and certainly could find no fault in Jesus’ answer.
Based on their Biblical writings, Christ’s apostles John and Paul thought quite a lot about love. The apostle John recorded Christ’s new commandment: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35 ESV) Here, Jesus suggested … NOT! He commanded his church(you and me) to love one another. From what I’ve seen, this is more challenging than loving ones enemies or his own family.
And Paul? Agreeing whole-heartedly with John, he wrote, “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” (Romans 12:9-10 ESV) That, brethren, is the Biblical standard for our churches’ comportment.
And what if we don’t?
Apparently, our excuses for violating Jesus’ commands matter little to him, as he indicated in John 14:15-21. That difficult passage deserves considerable study and prayer, so the reader who cares about such things will find victory, rather than condemnation in it.
Will we delude ourselves into believing merely civil behavior toward the brethren satisfies Christ’s New Commandment? I hope not, as behaving civily toward one another to their faces often belies what we say about them behind their backs. How tragic, that many of Christ’s churches ignore the multiple passages from the apostles’ writings that forbid such behavior among the brethren.
Love’s delusions not withstanding, unless we examine our behavior and our consciences, and repent of our loveless conduct of our relationships, many “brethren” will surely be shocked when they see on which side of the Righteous Judge they will find themselves standing on that Day.