What is Love?
In addition to our regular Bible reading, the boys and I are starting a 20-something week foray into various character traits and what the Bible has to say about them. I'm following a Christian blogger who has lessons and printouts about each trait, and I'm supplementing a bit, too.
The first trait is love and I think it's a great place to start. What is love anyway? The culture we live in has lots of ideas about what it looks like to love well and, as usual, they've elbowed their way to the front of the pack and shouted down everyone around them with their narrative. More than ever, Christians have to dig deep into God's Word and figure out the Biblical definition so that we can live in alignment with His ways.
The plan that I'm following brings attention to how most Americans use the word "love" interchangeably with words such as "like, enjoy, appreciate," and how the culture around us puts the focus of love on us and how we feel and not the objects of our love and what is best for them.
So far so good.
I'm taking it further by pointing out that this humanistic approach has seeped into the church at large. (search "You're NOT David!") There's so much focus on *us* and how God love us, and created us, and has good things for us, and health, wealth, prosperity, happiness, security and and and for *us*. But, the truth is that God created everything for his glory and his purpose and his name. As such, we are here for him. He is a God of holiness and we are not holy. His plan of redemption is first and foremost for his name. His will and his lordship will always reign.
Now, because he is love and because he is good, we benefit from following him. He loves us, but his love cannot be separated from truth and holiness and *ultimate* good. This means that we can joyfully engage in relationship with him, knowing that even when it doesn't make sense to us, that he is working for our highest and best good. But he will never "love" us in ways that contradicts his character or sully his great name.
Real love brings life.
One of the dangerous perceptions I see in Christian culture today is this idea that God is the grumpy, angry, butt-kicking God of the OT, and that Jesus is the meek, mamby-pampy, hippie lover-of-all Son who came to upset the apple cart. And yet, Jesus makes it clear that he and the Father are one and that he submits to the Father in all things and that he came of his own free will, but in order to do the will of the Father. The book of John makes it clear that Jesus and the Father are one and have worked in unity in all things.
God is love and truth. Jesus is love and truth. God cares about holiness. Jesus cares about holiness.
Gen. 1:1, 1:26, 2:15 Ex. 20:9 John 3:16
"The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever."
"Holiness, not happiness, is the chief end of man." Oswald Chambers
The three ways I see "love" portrayed in the Bible is in God's love for us, our love for God, and our love for others. So we'll be learning about each of those things during this week.