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love-cross

Love.  It is a word thrown around widely in our culture today.

The world has adopted some almost hippy idea of love.  They call it “tolerance”, define it as “loving everyone”, and offer it up as their version of Jesus.  This kind of love is a weak acceptance of ALL things…yes, ALL…oh, except the ones that they tell us we shouldn’t accept.  We should accept people for who they are and not try to change them, unless, of course, they believe that there is only One Way.

Even Christians have fallen for this deception and believe that the best way to live out our faith is acceptance and “love”.  They say that this is what Jesus did.  They make Him out to be the poster child of tolerance.

Don’t get me wrong.  I believe in love.  I believe that God IS love. I believe that the “greatest of these is love”.  With all my heart, I believe that love is the answer.  I just don’t think that love looks like what we have turned it into.

When you look up love on Google, you will first find this as the definition:

  • feel tender affection for somebody: to feel tender affection for somebody such as a close relative or friend, or for something such as a place, an ideal, or an animal
  • feel desire for somebody: to feel romantic and sexual desire and longing for somebody
  • like something very much: to like something, or like doing, something very much

This is a sneaky corruption of what love actually is.  As a matter of fact, the world’s definition of love is actually a better description of “infatuation”.  If love is about our feelings than it is quite self-centered, which is the anti-thesis of love.

So if love is not a feeling, what is it?

God IS love, so He defines what love is and the only way we can know and truly define love is to know God.  Outside of God, there is NO love…how could there be if He is love?

The love of God is not weak and it is not changeable.  It isn’t selfish and it isn’t evil even against it’s enemies. I Corin 13 gives it the following characteristics.

  • Patience
  • Kindness
  • Not Envious
  • Not Arrogant or Praise Seeking
  • Not Rude
  • Not Easily Provoked
  • Thinks No Evil
  • Never Rejoices over Sin
  • Rejoices in Truth
  • Bears All Things
  • Believes All Things
  • Hopes All Things
  • Endures All Things

Love NEVER Fails.

Love spurred the Creator to create.  Love called the creation to worship.  The disobedience in the garden was the first act outside of love.  It attacked the perfect bond of unity between God and man and it severed the ties.  For the first time on earth, God was loving and man was rejecting.  It only got worse from there, and the kind of love that never fails is the only thing that has kept us intact. God loving us while we are still rejecting Him is not only our hope, but it is something that ONLY God can do.

ONLY God can love perfectly and even in our best moments of trying to emulate Him, we are wiping others down with filthy rags.  The only way to truly love someone is to let Christ love them through us, and the only way that Christ can love someone through us is if He has Lordship over our life.

And I gotta be honest… Sometimes, to the naked eye, His love does not look like love at all… it certainly does not look like the sappy definition that we have given it.

  • Sometimes His love looks like trials and suffering  (2 Corin 4:17)
  • Sometimes His love looks like an unfinished job or unfulfilled promise (Judges 2:21-22)
  • Sometimes His love looks like discipline (Hebrews 12:6)
  • Sometimes His love looks like embarrassing revelations (John 4:18)
  • Sometimes His love looks like rebuke (Matthew 15:26)
  • Sometimes His love looks like truthful name calling (Matthew 16:23; Matthew 23:27)
  • Sometimes His love looks like walking away (Matthew 10:14; I Corin 5:11; I Corin 10:7; Matthew 7:6)
  • Sometimes His love looks like not chasing someone who is walking away  (Mark 10:27; John 6:66)
  • Sometimes His love looks like disaster (Romans 8:28; James 1:2-4; Job 1; 1 Peter 4:12)

These are things that this world could never understand at all, let alone label as love.  This is the depth of love.  The kind of love that brings God to earth to be put to death at the hands of His own creation.  Why would an ALL Powerful God who had everything already do something so sacrificial for specks of dust?  LOVE.  It is comprehended only by people who have received the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive because it sees Him not, neither knows Him.  This is the secret of love…it trusts even WHILE it is being slayed.

In order to really love how God loves, the Spirit of Christ must dwell in you.  His Spirit gives us the wisdom in each situation to help us love each person or group of people that we come in contact with.  Without this fellowship with the Spirit, we are helpless to truly love the way that is needed for the situation.

And if we choose to forego the Spirit and give in to the world’s definition and pressure of loving, we can be certain that we will only serve to join the enemy in his plan.  To get caught up in an emotional, psychology driven, worldly philosophy of loving will only serve to weaken the people that we come into contact with, not make them stronger.  Yes, sometimes all a life needs to change is an outpouring of mercy…but sometimes a life needs a good hard dose of truth… both can be love, and yet neither can be love if not led by the Spirit.

Just as God cannot be put in a box, neither can love.  We will love our husband differently than our best friend and our best friend differently than the stranger down the street and the stranger down the street differently from the group of people in another nation that we have only heard about…love will look different.  Know God and walk in the Spirit, then you won’t have to try to love the right way, it will come…and when you mess up, there will be grace.

But for heaven’s sake (and I mean that literally), don’t let this dark, messed up, hate filled, self centered world influence your definition of love.