You may be reading this article before Valentines Day. You may be reading it on or after Valentines Day. In any case, this article is NOT about Valentines Day. But it is about love.
When we talk about what it means to be a Christian, the most basic answer is love. The two laws of Christianity are love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself (Luke 10:27). When mentioning faith, hope, and love, the apostle, Paul, said that the greatest of these three is love (1 Corinthians 13:13).
The problem with love is that we aren’t very good at it, and therefore we aren’t very good at the one thing that should define us as Christians. Sure, we love people. We have deep feelings for those we love, but love is not actually those feelings. In fact, you can love without any feeling at all. Love is not an emotion. Love is a choice.
The reason we aren’t very good at love is that we are raised in a culture that teaches us that the world really should revolve around us. Every thing should cater to our whim, so we invent microwaves and fast food restaurants because we deserve to have what we want when we want it. As children we are given things we want because others love us, but the constant showering of love creates a type of narcissism that places us at the center of our own universe. We aren’t very good at love because we are selfish.
We also aren’t very good at love because we are afraid. There is much hurt and betrayal in our culture, and we don’t want to fall victim to that hurt. Maybe you’ve been hurt in your past so you’ve built up walls of protection out of fear of being hurt again. Jason Gray sings a song with the lyrics “Fear is easy. Love is hard.” I tend to agree.
So, we are supposed to love, but we find that love is difficult. How can we overcome that? It begins with an understanding of what love is and isn’t. Love is a choice. It is not an emotion. 1 Corinthians 13 says love is patient, kind, not envious, not proud, doesn’t boast, not rude, not hot tempered, doesn’t hold a grudge, doesn’t gloat, looks for truth, is long suffering, is trusting, finds hope in all circumstances, and is not fleeting or fickle.
Oh, and I forgot one. Love isn’t selfish.
I’m selfish, and so until I die to the idea that my desires come first I cannot love anyone – not even my wife. When we are afraid it is because of our self focus. That is what causes us to retaliate and feel the need for anger and frustration. Love is none of those things because love has no needs for itself. Love is selfless.
Look at Jesus. He is the perfect example of love. What did he ever do that was self-seeking? Nothing. He took the role of a servant though he was ruler and creator of all. He died for you although you had done nothing for him. He offers you sinless perfection while all you can offer in return is broken sinfulness. His love for you is not dependent on you. His love for you comes from a choice, as your creator, to love you selflessly despite all you have done to reject him.
If we love like that we will be hurt. We will be cheated. We will be taken advantage of. But if we love like that non of it will matter because we will have died to self, so there’s nothing left for them to kill.
Fear is easy. Love is hard. But it is totally worth it. Love is how we will change the world. Love is how God intends to bring us peace and joy and hope and forgiveness and all the things we truly long for in ourselves.