Love & Other Craziness

Valentine’s Day really impacted me this year, and I still find myself thinking about the strange nature of “love.” If you’ve truly experienced love and are honest about it, you know it makes you a little bit crazy—and sometimes a whole lot crazy.

It doesn’t require any deep exegesis to conclude that the lovers in the Song of Solomon are over-the-top crazy about each other. Love has blinded them to such an extent that they refer to each other as “altogether lovely” (5:16), a description that’s obviously hyperbole unless referring to Jesus. The rest of us have many flaws, after all.

Sensing the craziness of these two lovers, the onlookers in Song of Solomon try in vain to sound a note of caution. Three separate times, they are charged not to “stir up nor awaken love” until the proper time (2:7, 3:5, 8:4). But alas, it was too late. Love—crazy love—had already been awakened.

The maiden knew she had a problem: She was “lovesick” (2:5, 5:8). That’s a “sickness” God wants us all to have, but it sure is uncomfortable at times.

This reminds me of one of my favorite musicals, Man of La Mancha, in which Don Quixote goes wild for a vulgar barmaid named Aldonza. Unable to recognize her unseemly condition or despicable morals, he calls her his “virtuous lady, Dulcinea.”

Like I say, love is a crazy thing, and Don Quixote is a prime example. But the really crazy part of the story is that Aldonza was transformed into Dulcinea by the end of the play. Quixote’s seemingly irrational love turned out to be a powerful force for the hapless barmaid and hooker to see herself in a whole new way.

Okay, perhaps you Bible scholars out there think I’m only referring to the craziness of romantic love, described by the Greek word eros. Certainly God’s love, agape, is more rational and levelheaded than that.

To our surprise, however, there’s evidence that even agape love is pretty crazy at times. How else can you characterize something that bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things”? (1 Corinthians 13:7)

To ignore the “evidence” and keep believing, hoping, and enduring certainly seems irrational to me. Yet that’s the nature of love.

In 2 Timothy 1:7, Paul makes a profound statement about the factors that either energize or undercut our ability to love: God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love [agape] and of a sound mind.” An entire book could probably be written about how the various elements of this passage interconnect:

  • Fear and love are enemies, and “perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18). But let’s get real: Nothing is scarier than love, for it involves entrusting our heart to another person.
  • True love is a supernatural thing, and in order to overcome fear and truly love another person, we must have the power of God (dynamis). Power and love are meant to go together, and power is a very dangerous thing if not governed my love.
  • By far the most intriguing part of this verse is the reference to “a sound mind.” The Greek word (sophronismos) describes moderation, self-control, or returning to sanity. Its root is sozo, the word for salvation, so the literal translation could easily be “a saved mind.”

This brings us back to the craziness of love. Anyone who engages in such a hazardous undertaking needs God to deliver them from fear…empower them by the Holy Spirit…and, last but not least, to give them a saved mind.

If love has made you a little crazy lately, I pray that God will give you a saved mind, helping you see things from His perspective. But I’m also praying for those of you who need a little more craziness in your life. May you overcome your fears and experience the joys of lovesickness once again.