SoulFest is more than music, hence the tagline is MUSIC·LOVE·ACTION. Our hope is that all who attend yield to God’s unconditional love and make a fresh commitment to live from the inside out as a soul-connected risk taking believer in True Love, the revolution Jesus started. To aid in this process, we developed the Soul University - where you can join vital conversations about Faith, Social Injustice, Art, Navigating the Human Condition, and more. Throughout the festival, you will find over 40 different conversations to join. The conversations are hosted by gifted and inspired authors, artists, leaders and teachers.
We also asks these speakers and artists to write a True Love Essay for the festival program (also included on our website and in this blog). The essays are built around the theme we’ve selected for this summer’s festival, which is: TRUE LOVE IS UNCONDITIONAL.
We’ll kick off this year’s series of essays with Dr. Matthew Dickerson, a professor at Middlebury College in Vermont since 1989, after receiving his PhD from Cornell University. He also plays the role of husband, father, land steward, writer, songwriter and speaker (Outdoor Writer for the Addison Independent. Writer and Speaker on a variety of topics, especially the works of J.R.R.Tolkien and C.S.Lewis. Songwriter for Zephyr.)
So let’s hear what he has to say in regards to the 2014 festival theme:
UNCONDITIONAL LOVE TRUMPS EMOTIONS
God’s love for us is immeasurable and unconditional. We could never earn it, but we don’t need to. It is given freely and lavishly. In fact, though we often speak of “love” as a thing to be given—like a box of chocolates or a cup of coffee—even that language is deceptive; love is less an object to be passed around than it is an action; love is the very character and nature of God. God does not dispense little portions of love as rewards for good behavior because of who we are (or are not); God loves us lavishly and freely because of who He is: God is love.
And having tasted of this unconditional love, so great and freeing and powerful, I want to help others to experience it also. And the best way for me to make that love known is to live it out: to practice loving others unconditionally the way God through Christ has loved me. When we love others unconditionally, we help the world know the unconditional love of God.
But what does it mean to love unconditionally? I’d like to share one part of that answer. When I think of loving somebody unconditionally, my first thought is usually about the ways to love that other person despite their flaws and shortcomings; I am not making the other person fulfill any conditions before I love them. And that is good. Yet I also need to make sure my practice and expression of love is not dependent on my own emotional state. Love is not a way we feel; it is a way we act. And as a way we act, and choose to act, it does not need depend in the slightest on how we feel. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can love even when we, ourselves, feeling lousy, unloving, grumpy, or angry. And when we do practice that love, we are in some way reflecting and pointing toward God’s unconditional love.
One of the greatest lie of our time is the lie that love—and we could add forgiveness and faith—is a feeling. It is a conflating of love with romance or emotion. Love is neither of these things. Love is a choice. A willingness to lay down your own life for somebody else. That doesn’t necessarily feel good. But it is good. Read 1 Corinthians 13 and see how love is described as a way we act and treat others (and not as a way we feel). Even in marriage or parenting, the greatest acts of love are the choices to serve a spouse or a child when you don’t feel like it. Romance comes and goes in waves. Don’t listen to the lie that says that a loss of romantic feelings means a loss of love. Even in periods when romance is gone, love can remain. And this is true of all our relationships. When we dwell in God’s unconditional love, we needn’t let our own practice of love be a slave to our feelings. Let our love of others be unconditional—unconditional on their state, and unconditional on our own.