For a long time, I wanted to publish an e-book, and several months ago I finally did. It is a short devotional that explores the images and metaphors that the Bible uses for love. In the book, I take these images, reflect on them, and offer some stories, ideas, and questions to help the reader understand how multifaceted love is in the Bible.
I had several reasons to write that book. One, I wrote it because I’m fed up with texts that extract principles or some abstract concepts from the scripture to apply perpetually as if the scripture is all about systematically presented ideas. There are books that treat the Bible as an instruction manual about how to love, how to have sex, or how to find a job. There is nothing wrong with that except that with such a purely utilitarian approach, the Bible loses its magic: it does not stimulate our mind or challenge anymore. I wanted to counter that trend, so I focused on love because it is one of the central themes of the scripture.
Second, I wanted to test the waters and see if I could write, format, and publish a decent e-book that in the future may help me create another stream of income. Obviously, selling a book for 99 cents in the ocean of other competitive books without making any serious marketing efforts won’t make you money. But that’s secondary. The main purpose was to write about the topics I love and publish them for whoever is willing to read. The marketing will come later. For now, I’m concerned with writing a quality text that I won’t regret putting my name on.
The book has a simple structure: I took verses that speak about love and reflected on the image those verses use to speak about affection and intimacy. To narrow this topic, I focused on our love towards God and God’s love towards us. For each reflection I wrote a question or two and suggested an action to take.
Below is an excerpt devoted to Gal. 5:22 (“But the fruit of the Spirit is love…”):
The Bible teaches that love is the fruit of the Spirit. In this short sentence a profound image hides, and we have to unpack it a little bit to scratch the surface of its deep scriptural wisdom. Think about fruit, say, an apple. To grow an apple takes time. You have to water the apple tree and check it occasionally to protect it from disease. As time passes, you see the tree grow, blossom, then bear fruit. Love is like fruit; it takes time to love well. You may want to tend to its source so that the outcome is going to be love and not something else. You have to protect it from others and your own egotistical desires so that it does not wither and die.
Moreover, growing an apple is not fully under our control. We can’t just make an apple like we would make a building or a dog house. Nature participates in our attempts to grow the apple. The soil yields nutrients. The rain comes, then the sun shines, and finally an apple happens. So with love, it is not and can never be fully under our control. God is involved in the process. The person whom you love is part of the loving too. Just as the nutrients go into an apple to give it its unique taste, our actions, commitments, and emotions go into the love we tend, grow, and sustain. God’s will and your beloved’s actions and emotions go into the love that you have.
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