We get love all wrong. If you were to ask anyone in America what it means to love someone, you would more than likely get all sorts of different answers. In fact, most people don’t know exactly how to describe “love” because emotions are hard to put into words, and “love” is the most vague word in the English language. Unlike many languages, we use this one word to describe a multitude of different feelings. We can love spring, babies, Krispy Kreme donuts, coffee and our family with the same word, yet we know that this feeling is different depending on the object of our affection. In the English language we are ill-equipped to describe these varying degrees of emotions because we only have one word. In the Greek language, they have at least three different words to describe different “kinds” of love. Phileo is a brotherly love. Eros is an intimate love, and Agape is the love that comes from God. Perhaps if we had different words, we could more clearly communicate this emotion.
But, can a simple word really describe what love truly is? In I John 4:7-, the apostle John writes: “God is love”. If we unpack this statement, what we are really saying is that love is NOT an emotion; it is a person. John goes on to explain that God’s love was manifest in His Son – Jesus. He initiated this love by sending Jesus into the world . I am not sure we get what this truly means. I am also quite sure that Jesus’ followers didn’t either. You see, their Jewish tradition was built on works. In other words, they believed that the way to approach God was by following rules and checking off boxes. Yet, Jesus was bringing a very different message. Luke 15 records a day when he told the story of a man searching for one lost sheep, and a story of a woman looking for her lost coin. In both stories, the main characters (who represented God) didn’t stop until they found the lost items. These images didn’t line up with a theology based on strict obedience and “perfect” rule following to get God’s acceptance. The message behind these parables was profound. God went in SEARCH of the lost and when found, great rejoicing followed! He actively pursued the “lost” and expected nothing. This is what LOVE is. God initiated a relationship with us! He actively searches for us, His “lost” sheep, and then goes a step further, He lays down His life for us!
1 John 4:9-12, explains this truth about God’s LOVE very clearly.
9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. ….. Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.
So, what is our role in this relationship?
First, we RECEIVE His Love! Love doesn’t affect us unless we ACCEPT it! But, when we accept what is FREELY offered to us, it radically transforms us and leads to the second thing we must do. LOVE one another! Here is where we get it wrong. When we Love like God, we will initiate the relationship; we will actively search and we freely offer this love to others. We don’t wait for them to do something. We accept, we pursue, we sacrifice, and we do this as He lives (abides) in us. In other words, we can not love like Jesus without His supernatural power living in us and through us! Loving like Him means we go first! This is how we get it right!
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