Take a random three year old, give them paper and crayons, and ask them to draw their house. You will probably get a big red scribble in the middle of the page that isn’t even in the shape of a house, and maybe their house is actually green. If the child is more creative, maybe you’ll get a big spiky purple blob off the left that is the sun (you discover after asking the child). The child would know its house from a red house if you showed it pictures of two houses, and probably would even know its house from a very similar house in person.
Shown a picture of a purple sun, the child would also realize that it is not normal.
Using the statement that “God is Love,” as a fact, the two will be used interchangeably in the explanation of this analogy because it applies to both.
Each of us has our own drawing in our heart of what love is. We have a more difficult time than the child however, because while the child has repeatedly been to it’s house, we have never actually known love. None of us.
We have an accurate picture of love in the Bible and from what God has shown to each of us individually, however this picture shows only a very tiny portion, and is not very clear to us at all, and it can’t and won’t be in this world. At times it may be a bit more in focus, but even then it is still so far from clear that if we were to see it in perfect focus we would maybe not even recognize it. In our house drawings, we must work from the small picture of one brick, and fill in the rest from our own minds. The whole thing of the actual picture is much, much to big to ever be understood or even glanced over within the current life. We have to work with what we are able to handle.
We still have the crayons in our hands. As we learn and grow, we may decided to add pink grass to cover the entire picture including the sun, or may decide that it is wrong and scribble over our entire work with a black crayon and deny it exists. Sometimes one of the wisest things to do is to look over it and question it. In doing so we may choose to rebuild ourselves onto another piece of paper and either keep certain things from our original drawing or start over with the risk of drawing the exact same thing again but in a different order.
This may make our mind drawing a little better, but in reality, it still is going to look absolutely nothing like the original. Even the very best of every picture of God and love that anyone in the world has ever come up with still is so primitive and distorted that by looking only at the picture one would never manage to see any significant resemblance of the actual.
When we then follow the analogy out of our minds and to society, we are essentially showing our mind pictures to others as we live out our lives based on them. Those people are also in the process of making and fixing their drawings, and may decided to mimic those of others, and in the case of Christians to merge these with the blurry photo they have seen. Our views of love, and even of God, are always being shaped and changed by our experiences with other humans, especially those closest to us. However, if we are to ignore the photo and base our “art” only of the messed up perceptions shown to us by others, ours will always be less accurate. Just as the distortion exists between the actual and the photo, and the photo and the drawing, there will be another large amount added from one drawing to another.
To return to the original question, love does exist. The form of it within this world however has very, very little resemblance to what love really is. The only way we can see true love is from God, and we can’t comprehend what we are given from Him most of the time.
What is love? In Webster’s drawing love is “strong affection or liking for someone or something.” In my personal drawing, love is something that goes beyond that emotional liking to something more committed and less changing, and is a no longer controllable pull to protect, look out for, and try to take care of another in all ways that comes to the point of overpowering those same instincts when they are towards ourselves.
Going to the picture, through the blur we can clearly see patience and kindness. I don’t see pride or anger, selfishness or injustice, though I notice those a lot in the drawings I’ve seen from others. Looking deep into the picture of love, only one word can describe what it is. God.