L O V E…defined.
What may not be overt in the blogging of the past two weeks is that I am a Bible-believing Christian. That puts my life on a platform that works to operate on the principles of scripture; if you know anything about those truths, you would know they’re founded on Love. I write this out of frustration with all those who might make a similar claim that I just did but do not see the need to exhibit this in their day-to-day lives.
A topic that could nearly be blogged daily due to the inept culture we live in where, as a result of our fallen nature, we naturally default to a love that falls outside the parameters of agape.
No. The faint flutter and rush of blood to the head when that someone brushes close to you causing you to want the world to stop for all eternity if only to exist in that one elating moment, is not true love.
No. The dozen roses surrounded by rose petals leading to a candle lit dinner atop the Gansevoort Hotel overlooking the NYC skyline with a beautifully wrapped diamond necklace from Tiffany’s, is not true love either.
Now, I know what you are already thinking, these things are often done by people who are in TRUE love! Yes, I know. However, those examples, as represented by eros and philia love respectively, are equally catalyst to the victimization of those looking for true love in all the wrong places.
You might have already made allusions about this blog, as you perused the ideas I presented at the beginning of this little inscription, and you would be correct if you concluded the topic of TRUE love. This is a lost concept on society and an under-practiced commandment among believers. Those two facts, resulted in this lengthy blog about the greatest call for anyone who claims to have a personal relationship with the author and perfecter of their faith, Jesus.
By philosophical definition of the term “love,” eros, philia and agape love are the Greek terms used to define the nature of love. Biblically speaking, the love we are commanded as believer’s to exude is that of Grace-driven love. It is our God-given responsibility to love, care for, accept and respect all people, including our brother’s and sister’s in Christ. This agape love is a sincere love for one another from the heart.
Believer’s have to ask themselves two questions:
1. Do I know Jesus has accepted me as a child of His?…if that answer is yes, that begs the next question:
2. How well am I doing at accepting, loving, caring, cherishing, and respecting those in God’s family?
There is a power that transforms us, and enables us, to love one another with agape love. The love that is not one we wake at the break of day innately inclined towards, but rather one that is a choice made through our desire as believer’s to live and be as much like Christ in our time on earth as humanly possible through prayer and time spent in the word.
Having said that, there are three contrasts of this agape love as seen in our daily relationships, they are as follows:
1. Pure vs. Impure.
Since we have an obedience to the truth, purifying our souls daily, we are then called to love one another. This occurs through our one-time event of embracing the gospel and Jesus Christ at salvation and then is ongoing through the exegetical call beyond that moment which translates into a lifetime of obedience and dealing daily with sin. As we draw near to God, He in turn draws near to us, and until we take steps to walk closer with the Lord – thus requiring us to face and deal with sin in our own lives – we will never truly be capable of TRUE love. It was once said, “The best men are severe to themselves and tender towards others.” If you are merely a consumer in relationships – seeking only what others can do for you, love will never happen.
2. Sincere vs. Insincere.
We are not motivated within ourselves to love others…in fact, we are daily inclined to the opposite. However, scripture clearly indicates that we should seek to please our neighbor for his/her personal edification…and in light of living in a Christ-like manner, even Christ did not choose to please Himself. You can not love someone if you NEED something from that person. Being in the position of needing affection, attention, respect or any other parameter will prohibit you from confronting that person in love, simply out of fear of losing that relationship. Love, then, at its purest form, is inhibited. To truly love someone, is to be able to invest in them and care for them, and draw to their attention in a Christ-like way areas that need to be addressed in light of eternity.
3. Deep love vs. Shallow love.
The Bible calls us to FERVENTLY love one another from the HEART. That is not a weak call to a complacent and mediocre people, but the anthem of a believer who sees the bigger picture of life here on earth…we are but a whisper on the breeze of time before we’re whisked from this life into eternity. How do you want to leave this place? Do you want to be remembered as the man who amassed the greatest amount of wealth at the expense of every relationship the Lord brought into your life? Do you want to be thought of as the woman who spent her life maintaining a competitive physique to the detriment of the demise of all those God left in your life to love?
Indicators of this kind of love follow three ideas:
a. The overriding care for what is in the best interest of the other person. This requires that in our humanity, we suppress the itch to repay evil with evil and instead seek what is good for one another. Temporal gratification is lost when we refrain from seeking vengeance on those who may or may not be deserving, but a mans character is revealed in the moments when vengeance would be justified and he returns mercy and grace. That can only evidence Christ in ones life.
b. Love always asks questions. In the ever mounting technological age of society where the disconnect grows and we no longer communicate with the person sitting next to us on the couch of any given living room, communication is become a lost art. Difficult at the best of times, an definitively imperfect by nature, we spend less and less time engaged with each other interpersonally and even less time engaged in intrapersonal consumption of thoughts. Little to no time is devoted to considering what is good and what might be in the best interest of those with whom we come into direct contact daily. Even less time is spent listening. Heb. 3:12 demands that we encourage one another, day after day, lest any of us become hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. The metaphor of sin being like that of cancer could not paint a clearer picture of how we can become consumed by the free-radicals that are present from birth, resulting in the loss of spiritual life when sin terminally commands our lives and render us useless for the Kingdom of God and eternity. Instead, we want to look at those around us and build them up, remaining full of grace and truth. In the infamous lyrics from one of Michael W. Smith’s songs: “Love isn’t love until you give it away.” (Who is coming to TRBC in October, btw, AND is one of my childhood-Christian music heroes! :)) We spend so much of our life being diligent in keeping ourselves economically savvy and academically intelligent, however Peter says we are to be equally diligent in LOVE. As the old saying goes…to which rests a great weight of truth…people don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.
c. Last and finally, let no unwholesome word come out of your mouth – Eph. 4:29. We are to spend our lives edifying those around us. This is no jaunt in the park, it is HARD WORK. Consider things that you’ve said at the end of any given day…are you assign motives to your speech that breaks down relationships? Scripture requires you to LOVE those around you, even in spoken word as well as deed.
Relationships, at their very core, are messy and inefficient. How important is it as believer’s to spend concerted effort in defining for the world what “love” really should be? Not just to those we are instinctively compelled to love in the nature of Eros or Philia, but equally to those who are within the brotherhood of Christianity and importantly to those who may never see Christ in any other fashion than through the pure, sincere, and deep love that is Agape love.
The question I am left asking is, “Where is the love?”