Love is the most powerful force known to man. It has strengthened hearts, halted wars, conquered fears, brought forth generations and defined destinies. People over years have tried to pen it, sing it, act it, dance it out and even choose to die for it. But mere as a drop in the ocean, this four letter word we call as ‘Love’ seems incomplete and incomprehensible. The Holy Scripture also conveys love in the superlative, where Paul concludes in his letter to the Corinthians by stating ’The greatest of all is Love’ and indicating the eternal value.
But we live in a time when love as a word is overused beyond proportion, and the very essence of the word itself is lost. We grow in a community where Love is defined by culture, trends and constitutions, and these are prone to erosion and change. With such a scenario embracing us, what does Love mean to a Christ follower, and how can we be the people of Love?
First things first: Whether we choose to or not, we need to embrace the reality that the Holy scripture is the only basis of our definition for daily living. Philosophies and cultures exist only as extensions to the word, and not the other way around. The word of God stands true for ever, from eternity to eternity, throughout generations and underlines the creator’s will and desire made known to mankind. So initially, we need to unlearn a few paradigms of Love that society have inculcated in us.
Love is not a thing. This implies that we cannot manufacture love within ourselves nor continue it’s consistency over time by our own will. When we say I love my car, what we mean in reality is that we like it. Subsequently, should this car be wrecked in an accident, we cannot manufacture love and continue liking the car in its deformed way. Moreover, love is not a commodity that can be attained with money or on the basis of our actions. When two people fall in Love and get united in a marriage that ends in separation, does not love redefine itself as a commodity? Or does not love suddenly cease to exist in a relationship?
Love is not just an emotion or feeling: Sensual feeling is different from love. When we state that I have a heart to serve and be charitable to the poor, it is the affectionate feeling that we affirm. Should the person that you feed, come in and loot your house, would it stop your affection towards them and nullify the initial intent that you had? Will love cease to exist because it was only a feeling we affirmed as Love?
On the other hand, it is true that our emotions do change based on circumstances. We can get into a mellow mood hearing a blissful melody, while at the same time get exasperated when we see injustice done to us. But if love is genuine, it cannot change or cease to exist. That is where the God factor comes in.
So, when we embrace the revelation of the word, we come to the reality that Love is not an emotion or thing or something that we do, but that Love is actually a person. The Holy Scriptures trumpets this message throughout its pages and plainly states in 1 John 4:16 ‘GOD IS LOVE’. This is both miraculous and at the same time brings great encouragement to a Child of God, because it is the essence, character and the very being of God that we proclaim as Love. This encouragement leads us into 3 realities of Love
God who is Love, created us to display his Love. Furthermore, in his foreknowledge, God created us to bear his image, together with all the other characters, the commutable character of Love. So in essence, when God created us for an eternal purpose, love was not a thing or feeling, but ‘a being’ created in the image of God – you and me. Subsequently, God’s love did not cease when Adam’s folly brought in sin that wrecked and deformed mankind. Now seeing our infirmities, God did not discard us, as one would do to a wrecked car. But God who is love, made a provision beforehand to restore us back to him.
Jesus who is the physical expression of God’s love, manifested in flesh to be the first fruit of a new race, reborn into the Image of God. Jesus who is Love, came to us and died for us, even when we were enemies. He saw our rebellion, just as in the example of the person who looted his provider’s house, but rather still continued to love us.
In the same way, we having received grace have not only been given the privilege to be called as the Children of God, but to ‘be’ and bear God’s character of Love. So now, being in the image of God, we can be Holy just like God Is, we can be merciful just like Jesus is. We can show love to that toxic boss at work, we can forgive the trespass of others around us, we can be reconciled everyday to our spouse, we can love our children, we can be joyous in every occasion, we can enjoy communion and fellowship with the body of Christ and we can thank God in every circumstances. Not because we are capable to produce this Love, but because we are the very image of God and He produces this Love through us in all these situations.
Jesus said in Mat 22 ‘all the Law and the Prophets hang on two commandments’ Do you know how we can become people of Love? – Go to the Cross!
The vertical cross is our relationship with God: Love our God with all your being.
The horizontal cross is our relationship with our brothers and sisters: Love your neighbor as yourself.
In this we fulfill the whole Law and commands of God.
God calls us to choose Love, He calls us to choose Him. Because He IS, we ARE – LOVE