Love

February 8, 2010 at 4:41 pm | Posted in Christianity | Leave a comment
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This weekend, men and women will be celebrating love on Valentine’s Day. They will wining and dining in their best clothes. They will be giving candy, flowers, perfumes/colognes, and other assorted gifts and goodies to show that special someone just how much they love them.  Love will be in the air and romance will be the word of the day. If it’s really strong, a song might be dedicated or even written.  All of this in the name of love. None of this is bad, in and of itself. If you are in love then you should celebrate that. But I want to ask you something that you may not have given any attention to. Do you know true love? Do you know what love really is (I really have to get that Foreigner song out of my head…)?  
It seems that in today’s time, love has become some ethereal, subjective ideal that we all are striving for. It is the “warm fuzzy” feeling that makes us feel good and inspires us. No one seems to know exactly what this hazy, shifting love substance is, but whatever it is, we want all of it that we can get. A lot of people tie this into their spirituality as well. They talk about love being the only thing, but when you press them on specifics they all of a sudden have a mouth full of marbles. They put “love” on a pedestal but couldn’t tell you what’s actually there. Some will go a little further and say God is love, but they either don’t know love or they don’t know God, or both. Many have colored love with the physical. They have made love all about attraction, image, and lust. Even when talking about innocent types of love, they always speak with physical undertones and innuendo. Some shine this up by hiding among philosophers with the hopes that their listeners will be so astonished (or confused) by the jargon that the hearer won’t realize that they don’t have a clue.
So what is love? In the English language, there are at least 15 definitions of love. In the Bible, there are three definitions of love. There is eros love. This is the love that is most common in America. It is the physical, erotic love between men and women and it is a big industry here. The second type of love is phileo love. This kind of love is “tenderly affection” or “brotherly love”. This kind of love is also a kind of love that God has for individual believers, but it’s never the kind of love God expects to receive from man. The last kind of love is the love that I am going to focus on – agape.

Many Christians could actually tell you that agape is love and some could even give a definition for it. Agape love is the unconditional love of God. According to Strong’s definition, agape is “the active love of God for His Son and His people and the active love His people are to have for Him, each other, and even enemies” (emphasis mine). W.E. Vine adds that “love can only be known from the actions it prompts. God’s love is seen in the gift of His Son and is obviously not the love of complacency, or affection”. Agape love isn’t based on any merit of the one being loved. Vine continues, “Christian love, whether exercised toward the brethren or toward men generally, is not an impulse from the feelings; it does not always run with the natural inclinations, nor does it spend itself only upon those for whom some affinity is discovered”. In other words, Biblical love (the kind that believers are supposed to have toward each other and even enemies) is not about warm fuzzies or whether you like someone or not. Biblical love is loving the same way that God loves. So, what does this love look like?

Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails; (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a)

If Christians would start walking in this kind of love, things would be a lot different. But what you read above isn’t the half of it. You see, unfortunately the English language isn’t as deep or exact as the Koine Greek is. If you were to break it down into what the Greek actually says it would read something like this:

The active love of God exhibits internal and external control in difficult circumstances, it is kind, and does not experience morally corrupt zealous ill will or covet as a negative attitude of lust and desire for another’s possessions. The active love of God does not brag and is not puffed up or proud.

It does not act improperly, dishonorably, indecently, or rudely. It does not desire to possess anything for itself, is not greatly distressed, and does not calculatingly consider the evil done to it.

It does not rejoice in things that are not right according to God’s standard of holiness and righteousness, but rejoices with the truth (the manifested, veritable essence of a matter).

The active love of God puts up with all things, trusts in and relies on all things, confidently looks forward to what is good and beneficial in all things, stands firm and perseveres in all things.

Love never loses its authority, ceases to have force, runs aground, or is dashed to pieces.

This is agape love and it’s the type of love that Christians are supposed to have toward God, toward each other (husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, parents and children), and even toward those who hate us and/or God. It is important to understand that this love will never, ever contradict God’s Law or His Word. It will not endorse things that God hates. It will not tolerate sin, even as it loves the sinner (If it did, we wouldn’t be loving God like we should…). It will not forego the truth in order to make someone comfortable. This is the love that each Christian is to be living in on a daily basis.

All you have to do is look around to see how we’re doing. The family unit is being torn apart by sin and immorality. Spouses are cheating on each other and children are ruling their parents. Entire denominations have embraced homosexuality when it is clearly called an abomination in both the Old and New Testaments. More and more pastors are preaching a false gospel, tickling ears, and leading people away from God. Droves of people claiming the name of Christ are twisting His Word to make it say what they want so they can live in sin.

Is this love? Is this what God expects from His people? What are we doing? How long will it be before Christians realize that the things that are going on in the church (and many outside) are because we no longer love the way that we’re supposed to? This isn’t a call to some kind of lackadaisical, complacent love based on feelings and emotions. This is a call to Christians to be active in loving God, loving the brethren, and loving others the way that we’re supposed to. Will you answer the call? Will you love with agape love?

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