What is love, anyways?
Love: Probably one of the most misunderstood concepts in America right now. I’m currently reading a book, The Misunderstood God by Darin Hufford where he goes into great detail about our modern-day misconceptions about God by looking at what love is in 1 Corinthians 13 and when the apostle John states that, “God is love.” Many feel that love is that gooey feeling inside your stomach when you have affections for another individual. We also feel that love towards a member of the opposite gender is centered upon, and lives off of sex. These are both utterly missed concepts of love.
Now, when I say love, I don’t mean the type of love we see in movies. That is, a crazy-romantic, emotional rollercoaster of affection and hormones that is often portrayed in modern American films. I’m speaking of the love of “thy neighbor.” The type of love that drives us to loss of reputation for our friends or even for people we barely know (this is what Jesus did, He lost His reputation and they put Him on a cross for it). The type of love I mean is what Jesus meant when He gave one of His final commands before His crucifixion, “Love one another.”
My prayer, or to use more of a cliché term, my prayer burden lately has been that the Lord show me (and the other brothers and sisters I’m currently “churching” with) how to love. Like really how to love. Not the vain, superficial love that so many Christians put on as some type of spiritual mask to cover up their actual worldliness and hatred of others. But instead the real love that comes from Christ living inside of us, the love that hung on a cross! The type of love I want to know is the kind that is willing to literally die for my friends, for my brothers and sisters in Christ; to be willing to lay down all of my agendas and preferences for the abused and the afflicted in this world; to have a heart that is willing to have my joy turn to mourning over the hurting souls throughout the earth. That is my prayer and I hope that will be your prayer as well.
So, in my quest of learning how to love the past few days I’ve come to some conclusions. It seems love isn’t an easy topic to cover most of the time because of how vast and infinite it can be. Also, love must be taught by God. I don’t really think that real, authentic love can be something that we just acquire one day. Truth is, we all have the love of God living inside of us because God Himself lives inside of us, and as we know, “God is love.” But there are some practical aspects to this as well. Let me give an illustration from childhood.
The child that loves
Have you ever met a young man or woman, like an adolescent, that is just absolutely full of love; that every time you’re around that child you just feel the presence of God coming off him or her? I have.
A quick look at that child’s history will reveal one of two things. Either that child has grown up in a terrible home, full of hatred and anger. Or, that child has grown up with parents that show love and affection in acts of kindness every day. Allow me to explain,
The first child (the one in the tougher circumstance) has the ability to sympathize with others that are hated and mistreated. That child will show large amounts of love so that other people won’t have to face the same circumstances in life as he or she has.
The second child (the one in the loving house) can spot love in a heartbeat because they know what it looks like. Because that child has been loved, he or she now knows how to love. This holds great truths for us and our Father in Heaven.
Children of God
It appears to me that we, children of God, are like both the children. We have been hated by the world, shown hatred towards, been mistreated and abused by every system imaginable (sadly, even the religious system). The enemy has tried to take us out countless times, and if you have a dirty past (like me) then you know all too well how mistreating this world can truly be. So we can sympathize (or at least we’re supposed to) with the other mistreated ones. We can look at the poor and needy in sympathy and love because we know all too-well that when we see those broken individuals, we can somehow see where they’re coming from.
Also, on the other hand, we have a heavenly Father who is the very embodiment of love. If you have ever been loved by someone, by a human, then you know the power behind that love. But that love doesn’t even skim the surface of the love that our Creator has for His children.
So it appears that in order to love, we must first be loved. So why is there a disconnect between us and others? I think it’s this: that we don’t realize how much God truly loves us. We’ve heard it said, we’ve heard it preached, we’ve even said it in our prayers, but for the most part it hasn’t hit us on any true levels. Once this is realized, how much more will be able to love others! Most of our problems with sin would fall to the floor such as selfishness, jealousy, anger, resentment, laziness, and all the others that you could pile on that are caused by a lack of love for others and an indulgent love for ourselves.
So what am I saying? I’m saying this: that we need to know just how much God loves us, on deep levels, on spiritual levels. Until this occurs, we will not be able to love others. We will continue in our ways, continue being selfish, being mad, being resentful. These can only be cured once we know who we are as children.
So pray that God teach us how to love by showing us what it really means to love. Not because we are so bold as to say how loving we are as mankind, but because He is love and His love is sufficient.