In the last ten years, the concept of the Five Love Languages has exploded. Now you can find books on how to help your spouse, your teenager, your kids, your neighbors, all using the concept of the Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. Originally, Gary started working with the concept of the Five Love Languages as a way for his couples in counseling to communicate how and what they needed when it came to their love relationships. The Five Love Languages is a concept which gives easily understood and communicable language to one of the most difficult ideas for humans to understand: love.
The Five Love Languages are fairly easy: Words of Affirmation, Physical Touch, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Acts of Service. In all of our relationships, aspects of each of these different love languages plays a part. The idea is that while relationships need all of these things, people tend to favor one or another love language in their own lives. People tend to understand love in one way easier than they understand love in another love language. Say for example, Mario and Sarah like each other, but Mario is all about giving gifts and Sarah wants words of affirmation. Neither will feel completely loved in the relationship until they learn how to express and share love in the other’s love language.
Naturally there are also other ways to understand and communicate love, but the patterns of love languages helps us see what could otherwise be missed. Interestingly, when you look at the scriptures, we can see throughout history that God has expressed love for humanity in all of these ways at different times. Through the scriptures and the prophets, God sends words of affirmation to all of God’s people, calling them, “treasured”, and “holy” (Deuteronomy 14:2) In chapter 49, Isaiah makes the comparison that God’s people are more precious than a child to a mother.
Through the person of Jesus, God shows love in physical touch by healing through touch, by crying with others, by allowing people to touch him. Jesus offers love and healing through touch to the Blind man in John, to the hemorrhaging woman, and to countless others. God gives bounteous gifts and receives numerous gifts from the people. The two biggest gifts given in the Bible are the gift of the Promised Land and the gift of the Messiah! Both gifts are given in love and for the redemption of the people. And those are just the biggest gifts! Throughout the Old Testament God is constantly serving the people of Israel as they wander through the desert by feeding them and giving them water, by saving them from their enemies, by sending prophets and judges to guide the people.
God loves us in so many different ways, and they are all evident in the scriptures. It is only when we step back to look and reflect can we see the overwhelming nature of God’s love for us. No matter what way you know and feel love, God is waiting to show love to you.
The Rev. Elizabeth Yale is Priest in Charge at St. John’s, Franklin.