L.O.V.E. Four little letters that when put together in that order, have so much meaning. We are constantly surrounded by this word as we go about our daily lives, whether it is spoken through the music played in the grocery store, broadcasted on TV and movies, or displayed by the many young couples milling around the mall. However, all these examples are the world’s shallow, fickle, and corrupted definition of one of the most powerful human emotions.
Mankind is the only created being capable of love. Why? Because we were created after the image of an exceedingly loving God, who gave us free will so that we might love Him in return. But instead of choosing unconditional love, the first man and woman chose disobedience, as have their descendants since. Thus man fell from his perfect state, alienated himself from God, and corrupted his nature, including the ability to perfectly, selflessly, and purely love. Instead we have a commercialized, propagated, selfish feeling deemed as “true love”, which one can fall in and out of as easily as changing clothes.
While this is what the world values as the essence and embodiment of love, God, however, has a higher depiction and standard in mind. The Apostle Paul clearly outlines the Creator’s definition of love in his first letter to the Corinthians:
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails."
~ 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a
Isn’t this explanation at drastic odds with what surrounds our world as examples of what love looks like? God says that true love is unconditional and constant, whereas man, in his sinfulness, has made it based on what he is feeling at the moment. The byproducts of this notion are the revolving boyfriend/girlfriend relationships, broken marriages, and estranged families. We have lowered the meaning of love to a mere feeling and emotion, when in fact it should be an action and a choice!
Jesus gave us the perfect example of unconditional, undeserved love when He willingly stepped down from His heavenly home and chose to dwell among us, feeling our pain and suffering. Next He did the unthinkable—enduring the agony of the cross, He took upon Himself the just punishment for our iniquity.
"But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
~ Romans 5:8
This is true love: love put into action. And this is the type of love we are commanded by God to share. As John the Apostle eloquently wrote:
"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 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. 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. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another."
~ 1 John 4:7-11
Convicting, right?! But this is not a suggestion or request, it is a command. Our chief responsibility, as Christians, is to love the Lord our God with all our hearts and to love our neighbors as ourselves. So in modern day language, what does that look like?
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." ~ John 3:16
And God wants us to share this with others and become vessels through which His love might shine. As contemporary Christian recording artist Jason Gray, wrote:
"God put a million, million doors in this world for His love to walk through; one of those doors is you…"
~ “With Every Act of Love”
Are you prepared to be such a door? If so, the first step is to swing open. What would our communities look like if we all showed more love one to another? It would change the way we view each other, and how we act around others. Cliques, peer pressure, biases, pretentiousness, and a multitude of other barriers that plague our society would be broken down. So I challenge you to show your onlookers and peers the true meaning of love by your actions and speech, pointing people to the selfless love of your Savior and Redeemer and remembering His words as documented by John, the Apostle of Love:
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."
~ John 13:34-35
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