And this is my prayer,
that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight .
Phil. 1.9

I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine;
he pastures his flock among the lilies.
Song of Songs 6.3

Speaking out of Philippians 1 last week, I focused on v 9-11. What is the relationship between love and knowledge? This letter and Paul’s own life help in exploring that question. It’s a deeply human and deeply spiritual question, and it resonates in this letter with the warmth of Paul’s own heart.

Along his rough and tumble road, Paul ran suddenly into Jesus. His heart was crushed then expanded by the experience. Jesus and his kingdom became the passion of his life. ANd in that passion this question loomed large, because when we fall in love everything changes. It’s impossible to put it into words — and so, we try to put it into words. Other lovers have made the attempt.

I am filled with you.
Skin, blood, bone, brain and soul.
There’s no room for lack of trust, or trust,
Nothing in this existence but that existence.
Rumi

ANd other apostles have explored the relationship of love and knowledge, a relationship which has only become more complex since the Enlightenment. From one of his hundred sermons on the Song of Songs, Bernard of Clairvaux writes,

Let us love affectionately, discreetly, intensely.
We know that the love of the heart, which we have said is affectionate,
is sweet indeed, but liable to be led astray
if it lacks the love of the soul.

And the love of the soul is wise indeed,
but fragile without that love which is called the love of strength.
“In Cantica” Sermon 20

What is love without knowledge? It goes astray. What is knowledge without love? It makes proud.

Love without knowledge fills the space with errors and guesses. And so you have Buddhists spinning prayer wheels and trying to empty their minds. And you have Hindus worshipping cows and stone idols.

Love – but without knowledge.

And love without knowledge also gives us every kind of moral error. Because the love of the heart is sweet, but it needs to be protected with the love of the soul – or the spirit. Otherwise, we just follow where our affections lead.
And in our time, that is generating a LOT of error and a lot of pain.

So the love of the heart is protected by the soul. And the SOUL’S love – is the wisdom of God. The Holy Spirit. But it’s fragile unless the soul has a clear vision – knowledge and revelation. And so these three loves travel together – a three-fold cord. The love of the heart — the love of the soul — and revelation.

And this is something of what Paul is getting at in his prayer here in ch 1. He prays for us for discernment. A most uncommon gift. Discernment calls us to hold the Word and the Spirit together. It calls us to maturity. Love becomes mature as we work out our salvation in fear and trembling.

Lots more to say — this was more or less the first half of my sermon.