My second favorite song from the band Guster  happens to be a tune that is occasionally played on our local Adult Alternative station, called “Do You Love Me?” The prechorus and chorus of this song read as follows :
“Do you feel it?
Do you feel it now?
‘Cause we want it,
But we don’t know how.
Do we have it
As much as anybody ever has?
I wanna wake you from your dream.
I wanna know just who you’re talking to
When your singin’ in your sleep.
I wanna find out what it means.
Do you love me?”
We live in a world that is starved for love. We sing about it; we write about it; we talk about it; we think about it. The sort of love that we want to feel for others and that we want others to feel for us is cosmic, eternal, infinite in scope, and yet when we look at our culture or we look at the dictionary, what we see to define our love is emotion-based and often trivial and temporary. We want others to love of us their own will, and of perfect constancy, but we conceive of love and act out of momentary convenience or passing and evanescent feeling. We see the estrangement of parents, family members, friends, and lovers, and we hope against hope that when we meet someone with whom there is some sort of connection that it will be lasting and worthwhile, even as we know that the odds are against us, most notably because we and others in our lives are doing something amiss.
Today our festival coordinator in Steamboat Springs gave a message that in general outline is no doubt similar to what he has given other times before, and one whose initial object story, that of receiving a phone call from a confused man searching for the meaning of love and being confused because he had located it in the heart rather than in the spirit and in the will and in the volition, and upset because he kept on calling ministers and none of them would agree with him, is one that the outgoing minister in my own local congregation has used before in a message, probably after having received a phone call from the same man. In discussing the failure of emotion-based love, he said nothing new, and yet what he said had not lost its ability to emotionally move an audience of people broken and wounded by the failure of love, something that can surely be said for me. After all, the Greeks had a word for the love of family towards each other, storge, and yet the love of family fails, as parents abuse children and siblings refuse to speak to each other because communication and trust have failed. The Greeks had a word for the passionate love of boy and girl, eros, and yet the attraction that a husband and wife have for each other fades, and unless it is grounded on a deeper level than romantic or erotic passion, it will not endure, and the marriage or relationship will eventually end up broken. The Greeks had a word for the brotherly love of friends, phileo, but incidences and offenses, unless overcome, can divide friends who were once close because people have changed or because trust and communication have failed and at least one of the parties lacks the will to persevere when there are difficulties. The sort of love we find in our lives on a regular basis all fail, and fail with alarming regularity, once they become matters of will and choice rather than matters of feeling and convenience.
Ultimately, the agape love we are to develop as believers is not an emotion-based love. It is a conscious choice to love those who are not very likable, necessarily. In time, our emotions will eventually catch up with our fruits of love and outgoing concern and respect, but for a while, maybe even for a long time, we will do good without necessarily feeling good about it. We cannot trust our hearts as the guide to our behavior, even as we ultimately seek for ways that our hearts can be in alignment with our spirit and our behavior. What is troubling is when other people reduce our longings for love to one dimension when they exist across multiple dimensions. I will not lie about my intense longing for love, something that is too obvious to be hidden. Nor is it possible for me to hide the immense level of failure on all levels of love that I have known in my life, as it is a failure of which I am continually being reminded of, as if I was not already aware of it and troubled by it. It is not that I want just romantic love, or the love of a family, or friendship, or agape alone, but that I deeply and intensely long for all of them just about all of the time. This is, perhaps understandably, not an easy thing for others to understand or respond to.
I long for the opportunity to have an appropriate outlet for my intense romantic longings within the context of a godly marriage. I want loving children, and a feeling that my existence will have some kind of legacy that will long outlive me and be a part of an epic and lengthy story. I want to be a part of institutions and congregations that are able and willing to look after the best interests of others, are able to build up and encourage others, to show kindness and friendliness to all, regardless of the presence or absence of happy feelings about them, who are skilled at binding together what is broken and helping to mend what is damaged, and even better, to be a place that reduces rather than exacerbates the brokenness that we have to deal with. It is one thing to read a passage that says we are to love our neighbor as ourselves, or to say that without agape love none of the sacrifices or good deeds or knowledge in our lives has any value. I want to know all kinds of love in my life, and not only to see it in my own life, but to see others with all that love in their lives as well, and for others to see and appreciate such love as I show for them. Is that too much to ask?
 See, for example: