What is Love?

  • Ahavat Chinam – love for the sake of love, love for the sake of understanding, love for the sake of lifting one another out of despair and doing the work of healing our wounds and our illness.

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we 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. No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.

1 John 4: 7-12

Whether we believe or not and regardless of what we call ourselves, we are all God’s children and loved selflessly by Him. 

I opened an article randomly from my google app. It was deeply disturbing, at least for me. The title was “How to break up over text message.” This was after reading another disturbing article about various reasons men break up with their wives or girlfriends. Some reasons were justifiable, such as “she was running around with another man” or “she prioritized her relationships with her male friends more than me.” Then there were “I just woke up one day and realized I didn’t feel the same way” or “I looked at her and realized that even though I cared for her, I didn’t love her.” Most were similar to these reasons. The article started by saying, “emotions are fickle things,” and described the inevitable moment when you realize you’ve fallen out of love with someone as if it is guaranteed it should happen. Wow! Suffice it to say, I was depressed. Is there any hope of a lasting, loving relationship? So this is our world and the society we live in now. People just expect to fall out of love with someone eventually. 

This is the story of humanity’s descent into sin. The farther away from God, we have gone, the less we can emulate that perfect love we were created to embody and reflect it onto others. Yes, the article is correct, emotions are fickle, and there is no assurance in any of the “fickle” emotions of men and women. But in putting love in that category of a fickle emotion, we diminish its strength and power entirely. Love has become just another four-letter word you can fall in and out of. Something transient that fades at some point. 

We don’t have to go very far in the bible to see how depraved humanity becomes under the influence of the enemy when God’s love is rejected or His presence is absent, such as the time before the flood when “the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the heart and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continuously” Genesis 6: 5. We don’t have to imagine very hard to guess what “every intent of the thoughts of the heart was only evil continuously.” We can also look at the last part of Judges, starting from chapter 19, to get an idea. 

Enter Jesus Christ, the suffering servant of Isaiah 53. Whose presence and sacrifice are mentioned from the first sentence of Genesis. I once told a friend, “I wish I could be a servant.” He looked at me like he was disgusted or annoyed, not having any clue what I meant. The character of Jesus is wholly lost in today’s society, where power, self-promotion, and desirability are valued more than humility, perseverance, faithfulness, and selflessness. As apostle Paul says, what Jesus did on the Cross is foolishness and a stumbling block to everyone who lacks understanding of the power of God’s love. 

This love is not a “fickle emotion” but a state of mind that rendered God the Father to willingly send His ONLY Son Jesus to “pour out Himself to death”-Isaiah 53: 12. It does sound foolish. Why would the Creator of the universe come down Himself to be an atoning sacrifice just for the chance that we would believe, not for the surety, because we still have the choice to see the Cross and not believe? We think of crucifixion as just a method of execution of the past. Crucifixion is a slow and suffocating death. This was after Jesus experienced being whipped three separate times, rendering his skin hanging off of Him by the time He was nailed to the Cross. Yes, this was foolish. If I were God, I would have just started again. Well, therein lies the point. God is love, and I am not. I cannot begin to comprehend the love of God but can only accept it and do everything I can to show my imperfect, mortal love to anyone that comes into my life. The truth is, it was my sin that took Jesus to the Cross, and if it was just me that needed saving, He would have still come down, put on the decrepitness of humanity, and died the worst death possible for one person.

When we can truly see how deeply, completely, and wonderfully God has loved us in Christ, we can grow in our love for others. 

Read the apostle Paul’s beautiful exhortation of love in 1 Corinthians 13. This love. It is patient, kind, not bragging, not jealous, not arrogant, not seeking its own; it bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. LOVE NEVER FAILS!

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