What do you think of when you hear that word? You may think how much you love your parents, your spouse or your kids. Maybe you think of all the mush that is associated with Valentine’s Day. If you are a tennis fan you may find that love means nothing.
We have all sorts of metaphor’s to describe love. You know, the “Love is…”, or “Love means…” fluff. Like, “Love is a warm hug, a litter of sleeping puppies or Sunday afternoon in your favorite chair. Many of us may have also heard these old quotes:
- Love means never having to say you’re sorry. From Love Story
- Love is a Many Splendored Thing. Song by Francis Webster
- Love is a friendship set to music. – Joseph Campbell
- Love is real, real is love. – John Lennon
Ad nauseum. Or, add nausea. No offense to the folks who came up with these, but their ideas have become rather greeting card-ish. Hear stuff like this too much, one’s cookies could be on the way up.
There are a three main directives in scripture, concerning love: Love God, love your neighbor and, the New Commandment, love one another. First, let’s review from Mark 12 (among other references), which has been dubbed, “The Greatest Commandments”:
30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[a] 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] There is no commandment greater than these.”
Loving God can start when we embrace and believe His absolute, complete, unconditional love for us. When we truly believe His unconditional love, we begin to return with love and desire to do His will. What we have as convictions are based on a desire to do as our loving Creator wants and has designed us to be. This is opposed to the legalistic approach, which is more about mandates and behavior modification. This was never God’s idea or design. What this breeds is a Pharisee-like legal system. Love breaks law.
Loving our neighbor is something that has been redefined in many circles. It has been watered down, altered and sometimes overlooked. Of course, the Greek word for love, agape’, means unconditional love. Love with no conditions. None. This is the love we are supposed to have for others. Only God can truly exercise such perfect and great love. However, it is up to us to decide to love and His love can work through us.
Then, there is that little addendum…“as yourself”. Some say this speaks about loving yourself, first. Others have interpreted this to be, “as you, yourself, are loved.” Not entirely sure, but the latter sounds closer to home. It’s like, “God loves me, let me show you how much He loves you, too.”
Then, we have the New Commandment, love one another…John 13:34, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” In spite of some crossover, this is not quite the same as loving our neighbor. One another refers to those with whom we have common ground, basically. Our brothers and sisters in Christ. One great representation of Him is how we are among one another. Unfortunately, as being those who allegedly wear the armor of God, we spend a lot of time polishing our armor and fighting each other. Love is more than covered dish dinners and hugs on Sunday mornings.
More about love in following posts. Maybe we can get this figured out…as we walk together.