When someone close to you says, “I love you”, what does this truly mean? How should it make you feel? How many types of love are there anyway?
I open up this week with this one startling fact, the word “LOVE” first appears in the Bible in Genesis chapter 22:2;
2Then He said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”
In this verse Abraham is told by God to sacrifice his only son Isaac to prove his love for God. How ironic it is that God would ask this of Abraham with the intent of never allowing him to complete this task, but yet is a task God himself had accomplished for our humanly sins in the sacrifice of his only son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This example of God’s is perfect in that in all of his actions and words, God has proven how much he loves us, and how much he is willing to do for us out of love. Some have described Gods love as being more than human beings can understand, and thus to express this in Latin God’s love is called, agape, which literally translates as describing the highest level of love known to humanity, one that is selfless, and unconditional, a love that was passionately committed to the well-being of others, and the love God holds for all man kind.
How often is it that you tell those people in your life that you love them with God’s perfect love, agape? Some would argue that actions speak louder than words, and if this were true then why do we have the need to express how we are feeling in both words and actions? This then when using only the model of actions count more than words, accounts for the justification of believing that when people use the word love in their everyday speech, it begins to loose its meaning and affect. In fact I argue the exact opposite, for when we do not use the word love in our everyday speech, those who are the closest to use begin to wonder if we truly love them. Our actions do not always coincide with our words, so it is important to use the example set by God, and reaffirm, through our words, our feelings as often as humanly possible.
We also need to remember that Jesus Christ used the word love to illustrate the connection we have with him, and to God, and from the stories in the New Testament he used this word daily. God loves us; this was the message of Jesus, and it startled people to hear this. But what startled people more than that was when he proclaimed that he loved them personally. It stirred up emotions which were confusing to them because people by enlarged lead a very conservative life. The word love is the most power word God created for man to utter. It relays a message which when received holds so many consequences and emotions it can be very scary to those who do not know it, or have never truly felt it before. Some people, who are uncomfortable with this word, will scoff as they reply, “Really?” The word love is so powerful it invokes some to immediately question it, and for those who have known love, they will openly accept it saying in return, “I love you too”.
The great misunderstanding or misconception about love is that it is conditional, and can be given as reward, and this is simply not true. Keep in mind as you read further, I will attempt to draw a line between what is love, and what is not love, and my first point in regards to relationships and the word love, is that love is anything but conditional.
If someone tells you to do something for them by saying something like, “You will do this if you love me.” Or, “If you love me you will do this.” Where the word, “this” is a command, then they are really saying that their love is conditional, hedging on the act you are commanded to perform. If this is the case then you never truly had their love in the first place. They are using this powerful word as like a carrot, to control your actions, and love is not controlling. Love comes from God, because God is love, and because he loves all of us equally, the word love is not conditional.
1John 4:16; 16And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.
So if God’s love is not conditional then why did Jesus say the following, found in John chapter 16, verse 27?
John 16:27; 27 “No, the father himself loves you because you have loved me, and have believed that I come from God.”
Jesus said this because as human beings we have free will, and so we chose to love God, much like God has chosen to love us despite our sins, and imperfections. It is not God who walks away from us, rather it is us who walk away from God. The door is always open to Gods love it is up to use to keep it open. It is our choice, Jesus merely extended his hand out of love so that we might know him, and be filled with God’s perfect agape love.
1John 2:15; 15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
John warns not to love the world, and all it holds because this world is temporary, and like us will pass away, and God does not love what will pass away but what will be forever. God’s love is forever, in fact he loved us before we where ever born. His love is overflowing, and eternal, and makes us eternal when we accept it. When we accept God into our hearts, we then know love, and can give freely love to others. John’s warning is that if you love the world, you have closed yourself off to God, and thus are incapable of loving yourself, or others. Instead you use love like a carrot dangling it over the edge of the cage you have put the people that are the closest to you. You are cut off from them, yourself, and God.
Mathew 6:13: 13No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.(Mammon translating into wealth.)
People who fall into this category suffer daily, and they typically are searching for God, but for whatever reason reject him each time they get close. Their relationships last only for short periods, because their manipulation cannot be suppressed forever, and people who are in their life, like children, or spouses are the ones who suffer the most from this soulless exchange of loveless commands, and double standards.
1John 2:16-17; 16For everything in the world-the cravings of sinful man, the lust of the eyes and the boasting of what he has and does-comes not from the Father but from the world.17 The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.
Doing God’s work here on earth does not automatically equal living for ever as a condition, but rather as a logical consequence to your choice to doing God’s will, living for God, rather than living for yourself. It is not a carrot dangled before us, but rather a choice that we willing make. The same can be said about love, it comes freely from God, but only when you chose to open the door. Showing love to others and receiving love back is also the simple consequence to the act that you chose to do. Everyone regardless of age, color, or belief is equal in these things which God had intended for all of us to have from the beginning, unto our very end, and proves he made us in his image, as like God we have the capability to feel, and being loved.
The example Jesus gave to use was radical in that we as people are naturally afraid of the unknown, and the word love, for that reason invokes the fear of the unknown. Thoughts run wild in our minds that warn against becoming to close with curtain people or befriending others from different ethnic backgrounds and races. We are naturally prejudiced against others because of their costumes, and customs, or religious beliefs. So when Jesus said,
Q14; 14 Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who treat you badly.
We as human-beings cannot understand this radical logic, but in truth this act of loving even your enemy, purifies your heart, and keeps it from becoming hard. In practice could we by showing this kind of love to our enemies make them our closest allies? If we do it once, could we then do it seven more times, a hundred, a thousand more times? This act demands respect, honor, and loyalty, and it makes us humble before God. In that God truly blesses us and he truly lives within us, in short we exemplify his love. By loving even our enemies, our love is proven to be unconditional, and we prove God is unconditional. By accepting others to eat at our dinner table we prove we are with God, and that God is with us.
The other even more radical thing about Jesus and his examples is when he said;
Q13; 13 Fortunate are you when people hate you, exclude you, abuse you, and denounce you on my account. Celebrate when that day comes and dance for joy-your reward will be great in heaven. Remember that their ancestors treated the prophets this way.
God’s love is so complete it moves us do extraordinary things, and accomplish extraordinary achievements, and reinforces our belief in him. It exalts him, glorifies him, and we are given more and more blessings, and love as we chose to open the door to him wider and wider. Love is the core, it is the one constant and cannot be given as a reward, but is the logical consequence to God, to loving others, and to loving and respecting yourself. Love is bliss, it is happiness within the strife of your everyday life, it is finding God, and receiving from him the strength and courage to continue to utilize love as it was intended. It is showing compassion to those less fortunate, giving food to the hungry, healing the sick and dying, and it is forgiving others of their transgressions against you, all without expecting anything in return. That is what love is.
May peace be with you all the days of your life? If you have been moved by this blog I invite you to become a follower, and learn to Listen Faithfully to our Lord Jesus Christ.