All You Need Is Love

There really is something about love:

On the one hand, because we are all different, we all react to things differently. Some things that really speak to us, or really hit us, or really move us might leave others cold. But on the other hand, because we are all made in the image of God, we all have universal experiences, longings, inklings and desires.

This might be a very odd article then, in light of my first point above. But because of the second, many of you might relate. My title speaks of love: a universal human longing. We ALL want to be loved and accepted and cared for. Yet in this fallen and broken world, most of us have known little of this.

Indeed, the place where you should find the most love and care – the family home – so often disappoints. A child might know little love but plenty of abuse and rejection. A child might see his or her parents break up at an early age, shattering their world. Parents might walk out on a child, never to return.

Then again, friends might also leave us or betray us. Spouses might turn on us and turn away from us. Everywhere we see love being smashed, crushed and destroyed. So many people are walking wounded, having never known what it is to really be loved and accepted and embraced.

Of course it is the love of God that must be turned to when all human loves disappoint and depart. Yet so many know nothing of the love of God. Or if they do, as believers, it can be in the form of head knowledge only, with no real sense or experience of its reality.

I know many Christians who feel this way. Many say they do not know what it means that God loves them. Yes, they have all the biblical and theological knowledge, yet it seems to be something they cannot seem to grasp, to appropriate, to experience, to enjoy.

Oddly enough, I too have known this. One can have a head full of knowledge about the love of God, and yet daily struggle to really know it and experience it. It is a funny thing. But I know that even though we are all image-bearers of God, and because we are all alienated from him due to sin, that even after a new birth the sense of knowing God is not always immediately there.

OK, so I am rambling here, but the reason for this piece being penned is this: For perhaps the second time in maybe the last 15 years or so I have watched good hunks of a film on television which for some reason really spoke to me. Indeed, I found myself choking up more than I ever have before. The tears could not stop.

And the film was about love. It was about looking for love. It was about desperately trying to get the love of a loved one. If you have seen the film, you know whereof I speak. If not, I will have to provide some details here. I refer to the 2001 science fiction film A.I. Artificial Intelligence (also just called A.I.) directed by Steven Spielberg.

It is based on a 1969 story which filmmaker Stanley Kubrick was first going to do. It is about a future time in which most of humanity has been wiped out, and humanoid robots with intelligence but no real feelings are created to take their place.

One human family buys David as a sort of replacement son. He is a newer model, capable of experiencing love. He greatly loves the mother, Monica, but after a series of events the father wants him destroyed. As she is taking him back to the creator, she relents, and drops him off in the middle of the woods, leaving him alone, heartbroken, and in tears.

That is the first scene that broke me up terribly. No other film scene has done that to me. When we speak of being all choked up, that really happens to me big time when I see that bit. A young (robotic) boy being abandoned by the mother he so terribly loves is just so heartbreaking.

You really should see the whole film, but here is that sad scene: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NxkT6tPRfRQ

Plenty happens for the next hour of the film. He goes on a quest for a Blue Fairy whom he believes can grant him his wish of being fully human so he can finally be loved by the mother. He does in the end meet her, but it seems to finish there. However, 2000 years later, advanced robots find him, and work to recreate his mother so the two can reunite. However, she will only be able to live for one day.

But he gets his wish of her loving him as much as he loves her. As a Wiki piece says: “David spends his happiest day with Monica, and as she falls asleep in the evening, Monica tells David that she has always loved him: ‘the everlasting moment he had been waiting for’, as the narrator describes. David falls asleep as well and goes to a place ‘where dreams are born’.”

I will say no more about the film if you have not yet seen it, and are wanting to. But again, for me, the final half hour or so of the film just drove me to uncontrollable tears. It just hit me so very hard. But as I say, some of you will wonder what I am going on about here.

Some of you will say, ‘It is just a lousy movie – why are you getting so worked up about it?’ OK, so call me a sentimental old fool. But some of you will share my reactions. Something very deep down inside of me is touched when I watch a movie like this. It is tapping into some very real things in my life – even if I am not quite sure what.

Perhaps I have been looking for and craving love all my life, but never felt it had really happened. Of course I had loving parents, a loving wife, loving children, loving friends, and so on. But perhaps the deeper love of God is something I am still trying to get a real handle on. To really fully experience and deeply know. There might be some very old wounds there that are in need of healing. I don’t know.

But I do know three things:

-We are all desperately looking for love.
-We mostly look for love in all the wrong places.
-Only the infinite and immeasurable love of God will ever finally and fully satisfy our need for love.

So I have written my piece. It will likely get mixed reactions. But there is something about love, acceptance, and affirmation that we all need. And God has it in abundance if we are just able to receive it.

[1153 words]

11 Replies to “All You Need Is Love”

  1. Bill,

    Your post today is one of your best. No, I don’t think it rambles at all.

    It describes accurately the human condition, as does the Kubrick/Spielberg 2001 sci-fi fantasy film that you discuss, “A.I: Artificial Intelligence”.

    Some blasé individuals may, as you say, dismiss it as “just a lousy movie”.

    I am not one of them. It is a masterpiece and a classic.

    Just like you, I was deeply moved when I first saw it some years ago.

    Tim Kreider, in a film review, wrote:

    “It’s … a film about human brutality, callousness, and greed. A.I. is one of the most the most unsentimental visions of mankind…. David [the robot boy with a soul], who will become ‘the living memory of the human race, the lasting proof of their genius’, is exploited by his creators, mistrusted by his father, tormented and tricked by his brother, betrayed and abandoned by his mother, and hunted, caged and almost executed for the amusement of crowds. He has been designed as a disposable commodity….”

    Doesn’t that speak powerfully about our present age in which so many parents are prepared to abort their own children and in which the commodification of humanity and human-trafficking are rampant?

    Back in 2008, you observed that, in effect, Hollywood sometimes does a better job than many Christian commentators in educating the public about the possible adverse impacts of biotechnology on humanity’s future. Reference: “Bioethics, Hollywood, and the biblical worldview”, CultureWatch, July 17, 2008. https://billmuehlenberg.com/2008/07/17/bioethics-hollywood-and-the-biblical-worldview/

    Thank you, Bill, as ever, for your stimulating cultural commentaries.

  2. That was a brave piece, Bill. But then, you’ve never been short of courage,

    I’ll look for the film.

    God bless.

    Amy

  3. I experienced God’s love in the 1970s. It utterly changed me, immediately. I lived every minute thereafter in the incredible presence. All sin dropped away. I lived for God.
    I thought this was permanent. Suddenly, in the 1980s, it was suddenly gone. The gulf left in my inner guts was unbearable and desperate. All my efforts to retrieve the experience were useless.
    On reflection, I am nearly worse than I was before the ‘70s advent. I think now that the traditional path of hard grind, self discipline and scrupulous seeking to please God, is better for the long journey.
    The joy you seek, Bill, will come in heaven. I didn’t pray for my visitation. It happened. God gives as He wills: grace. And he took it away. We dumb humans must just get on with it.
    BTW, I haven’t seen the movie you mentioned. But stupid, ordinary events today suddenly occasion deep tears in me, even today at Mass – a song that I loved in Charismatic days. God’s heart speaks to human hearts.

  4. I’ve seen the film too and you’re absolutely right, Bill- it is deeply moving. I think that it reinforces a very valuable reminder of the difference between our mortal relationships on this earth and our relationship with our Lord and Saviour. As I’ve said before, I honestly believe that our soulmates are just that- preordained and predestined to love and work alongside us, and share our lives because our Lord and Saviour is a merciful, compassionate and loving God and has planned this for us since long before we were even born. You and I went through heartbreaking experiences when we lost our Ernest and Averil. But here’s the wonderful thing- unlike the child and their mother in this film, one day, we will be reunited permanently with our soulmates in Heaven. If you’re anything like me, and you were undoubtedly a loyal and loving Christian husband from what you’ve shared with us, you live in hope and yearning until that day arrives. But it will arrive, because our Lord and Saviour is our consolation and cornerstone and rewards the love of good and faithful partners for one another. That is the sanctity of Christian marriage and it is a beautiful and enduring testimony to our Lord and Saviour’s love for us.

  5. Thanks Bill, I choke up too on such clips. It must be the love of God springing up in us. The only bit in the Bible that makes me choke up is in Genesis 44:18 where Judah steps forward to take Benjamin’s place. I think I’ve heard that is one reason why God chose the tribe of Judah as the lineage of King David and Jesus.

  6. On somewhat of a different line ,Bill, I would like to hear what you think of Churches turning on Easter Egg Hunts, Bunny Ears, Facepainting, Jumping Castles and a BBQ to celebrate Easter? I simply can’t stomach it. I feel it is so confusing to take all the secular farce and mix it up with our Easter celebrations just to get (?) accepted by the community is so wrong. I feel the community longs to hear the truth of Easter. There was no mention of any of these things in my childhood and teenage years in church but there was a great reverance for Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and a great celebration of His resurrection with wonderful music and joy. Anyway, what do you think?

  7. I had forgotten about the film “A.I: Artificial Intelligence”, but this article causes it to come rushing back to me. It was a truly heartbreaking story. It was hard to watch in parts. And 23 years on I’m more aware of the horror of this world, I recognise this as a *direct* analogy of the experience for millions of abandoned and trafficked children who are nothing but a commodity to be used and discarded. It is gut wrenching,

    I do remember thinking that the ending was a worldly attempt at an analogy which Christians would recognise as redemptive healing of our hurts in heaven.

    As to more regularly being deeply moved by such things like this, and personal sacrifice, I can concur. Getting old, and being of more cerebral than emotional, my personal reflection on that is both that sensitivity to emotion has grown over time, and also a recognition of areas that YHWH is finally getting to heal in me as I’m opening myself up more. But then, that’s probably just me, since I’m pretty slow to learn.

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