Living In Love
What is love? How do you define love? There are so many definitions of love. Going back to the roots of the word, there are so many words which pertains to it, which makes it confusing. There is “eros”, which is Greek in origin, and pertains to sexual love. There is “philia”, another Greek word, which denotes a deep friendship and partnership, such as BFF’s. There is yet one more expression of love – “agape”, which means unconditional love, such as the kind of love God has for us. This is the kind of love that Jesus and his disciples, especially John, repeatedly mentioned all throughout the bible.
Agape is unchanging love. It is self-giving that gives without expecting anything in return nor demanding anything back. It is love that is freely given even after being rejected by the other person. It gives because it loves, and not gives because it expects something in return.
Among all of Jesus’ disciples, John understood this kind of love the most, and has written about it more times than any of the writers of the bible and related writings like the epistles. When all the disciples went in hiding for fear of their lives, John was the only one who understood who Jesus really was, and it was his love for Jesus that gave him the strength to support Jesus even at His crucifixion. He was the only one at the site, together with Jesus’ mom, Mary. Compassion and love outweighed fear for one’s own life. His actions were clearly of this kind of love.
So how do you live in love, the kind of love taught to us by the Lord?
First we have to be clear about who or what our source of love is. Our source of love should be God and nothing and no one else. God is the ultimate source of love, the author of all different expressions of love. 1 John 4:7-10 states, ” Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.” God is love. In fact, all the commandments given through Moses and by Jesus are all centered on love.
We often times channel this source of love from others instead of God, and that is why we find ourselves dissatisfied or depressed. Many young unmarried teenage couples say to each other, if you love me then prove it to me. (denoting sex) This is clearly NOT LOVE. It’s manipulation and lust.If you really love the other person, you will have that love and utmost respect for that person, and will be willing to wait for the right time. Sex is actually a sacred act of consummation that is part of the wonderful process of creating new life. In this act, the couple becomes one. This is only for married couples only, not meant to be used just by anybody for pleasure like animals.
Remember that popular 80’s song by Foreigner, “I Wanna Know What Love Is”? For those who don’t know that song, click on this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tUYGzZ0tQpA. I have to admit that I myself loved that song during those times. Well, just like Foreigner, this is what happens when you channel to source of love from others instead of God. Nobody has the capacity to give unconditional and unchanging love. Not even your crush, your husband, your wife, or whatever have you. Always remember that.
Secondly, God demonstrates His love for us. He fulfills his promises and does what He says, unlike humans. We are all guilty of saying the right things, but doing the wrong things, or the other way around. We cannot be loving without being just. That is not real love. Take for example a child who committed a crime. A person who is not just but only has love, will protect his child at all cost just to save him from rotting in jail.
A just person without love is not exactly loving as well.
God’s ultimate expression of love for us is sending down His only Son, to save us. He knew the consequences that would happen, but He allowed it. God is both loving and just, and never one way or the other, unlike us. He knew that we needed to be atoned for, and there was not one among us who would be worthy enough to atone for our sins, and that is why He sent His only Son in human form to save us. Jesus was the sacrificial Lamb. God did not do shortcuts to save Jesus. He did what was right for our sake. He is both just and loving.
In our case, we would never dream of sacrificing even our own children just to save others. We tend to be selfish. If our children got into trouble, would we jump in to save them, or do we do things justfully while still providing love to our children?
We have to be steadfast in our faith. We should practice what we preach, and always do what is right, even if sometimes, the right thing to do is very difficult to do, such as admitting one’s mistakes, and apologizing for such mistakes, and remaining humble. We have to do everything out of love, and not out anything else.
Third, but not the least, love is NOT optional. It is REQUIRED by God. 1 John 4:11-12, states, “Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.” Note the word ought. Based on how the word is used in the biblical statement, Merriam Webster explains that “ought” here is used to express obligation. So that means it is required.
We are not asked to love whenever we feel like it, but we are asked to love everyone, even the people who offend you oftentimes. What 1 John 4:11-12 is saying is if you are filled with God’s love in your heart, you are filled with His grace and loving others come naturally.
So, to cap it all up, first thing that you do is make God the source of love. Then, strive to be both loving and just at the same time. Make sure that everything you say and do is good and just in God’s presence. And lastl but not the least, love everyone equally as you love yourself. There is no exceptions here. If you harbor any hatred, then you are not being true to yourself and to God. You are a liar if you hate your enemies and strangers.
John 13:34-35 says, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’” This is a very clear instruction. If we claim to be Christians, then we have to be identified as such by others, through our actions and our words, and even expressions.
Let us all start loving one another!
Peace, my brothers and sisters!