Saturday, February 26, 2011
Having been thrust into the world of "singledom" yet again, it has given cause for me these last few months to really consider the basic concept of love. Doing a simple Google search for what love is led me to a list of definitions for love found on the web:
- A strong positive emotion of regard and affection
- Any object of warm affection or devotion
- Having a great affection or liking for
- Beloved: a beloved person; used as terms of endearment
- Get pleasure from
- A deep feeling of sexual desire and attraction
- Being enamored
Writers, poets, and philosophers have been writing about love for centuries. Aristotle said "Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies." According to St. Augustine, "Love is temporary madness." W. Somerset Maugham even said "Love is only a dirty trick played on us to achieve continuation of the species."
As I consider these statements on what love is, I can't help but think there must be more. The common wordly view of love seems kind of vague, and even a bit hollow. Then, I was reminded of 1 John 4:8 which says "God is love." Most of the time when I hear people discuss this concept, it is divided into two parts: our imperfect love, and God's perfect love. If we take this statement literally, though, that which we refer to as "love" is the one and the same as God. Notice, this passage does not say "God has love," or "God shows love," but that "God IS love." Therefore, when we feel love toward another, we are experiencing direct contact with God in our lives. When we show and demonstrate love towards others, we are sharing God with them. There is a reason Jesus said that to love is the greatest commandment of all!
Bringing this back to my original predicament, searching for someone to spend my life with, I have made a revelation. If I search for love according to the world's standards, I am searching for something superficial. No wonder so many relationships fail! From here on out, I am making the decision to search for someone to share God with. The way I see it, if we share God, we share a love that transcends the world.
This morning in Bible Class we discussed 1 Corinthians 13, otherwise known as the "Love Chapter." This chapter is frequently used in wedding ceremonies, but the words seem to have become almost pithy, and judging from our national divorce rates obviously have no real impact on how many of us show love to one another. If we remember, though, that God (the term encompassing the Triune God; God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit) quite literally is love, we can gain an entirely new perspective on Paul's Love Chapter in 1 Corinthians. By replacing the word love with the word God, who is love Himself, the chapter reads:
"If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have God, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have God, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but have not God, I gain nothing.
God is patient, God is kind. He does not envy, He does not boast, He is not proud. He does not dishonor others, He is not self-seeking, He is not easily angered, He keeps no record of wrongs. God does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. He always protects, always trusts, always perseveres.
God never fails."
Can we achieve this kind of love on our own? No. Because we are meek and sinful humans, we don't have that kind of power. But with God working through us, and by the salvation of our Lord Jesus Christ, we can strive to follow His example.
"Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us." - 1 John 4:7-12