As we say goodbye to the month of love, I can’t help but wonder how so many people speak about love but don’t really have an understanding of what it really means. Saying ‘I love you’ is easy, especially if it gets us what we want. But we also say ‘I love pizza’, or ‘I love that dress’, or ‘I love my new car.’ Of course we don’t mean all of those sentences in the same way. Love is such a big word, that it is really difficult to define. We’re taught that there are different types of love (according to the ancient Greeks), such as Eros or Erotic love, Philia or Affectionate love, Pragma or Enduring love, and Agape or Selfless love. I remember being taught that Agape love is the love that God has for us.
But what is Love really? If I feel really excited every time I see someone, does that mean I love them? If so, why is it that a few years down the line that same person can make my blood boil and I can’t stand to be in their presence? What happened to that so called ‘Love’?
Can I be so bold as to say that there is only one true definition of Love, and that is expressed in the Love that God has for us. The Bible says that ‘God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son’ (John 3:16). He sooooo Loved. That He gave. True love gives. True love is not selfish. I once heard someone explain that Love is a verb- an action word. It is a choice, and if you’re married you know that it is a continuous choice. It is absolutely not a feeling. Feelings go up and down, depending on circumstances, but true love is constant, whether or not it is reciprocated. God so loved us that He gave Jesus for us. And we didn’t have to give anything back. We just have to accept and bask in this amazing love. Now that is the real definition of Love. Love gives despite the pain. Some of us, before becoming Christians, turned away from this love that was offered to us, and many still do. But God’s love is still on offer.
One of my favourite worship songs is called ‘This is amazing grace’ by Phil Wickham. The lyrics include the following lines:
This is amazing grace,
This is unfailing love,
That you would take my place,
That you would bear my cross,
You would lay down Your life,
That I would be set free,
Jesus I sing for, all that You’ve done for me.
In John 15:13 Jesus said, ‘Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.’ Love is sacrificial. In the coming weeks we’ll be celebrating Easter, the resurrection of Christ. As Christians this is everything our faith hinges on- the fact that Jesus died and rose again. It gives us hope for the future, and for life after life on earth. But it is also a time for reflection on what Jesus went through to secure our future with God. He went through a lot of pain and torture, and as He bore our sins on the cross, He suffered separation from God His Father. We will never fully understand what that felt like, but that is the whole point- we don’t have to understand it, or go through it, because Jesus has done it for us. He didn’t just talk the talk; He walked the talk by laying down His life for us.
This is true, sacrificial, love.