Friday, February 17, 2006

What is Love?

What is Love: From what feels good to What IS Good!

There seems to be a lot of confusion about love today. Even though millions are searching for true and lasting love (evidenced by the billions of dollars internet-dating sites rake in every year), there still seems to be quite a bit confusion about love. When asked on the street, people say everything from passionate feelings deep inside to sex to something so mysterious it can't be put into words. Well, personally... I don't think its something to be confused about; I just think we've been taught a lot of junk by the world and the culture. For example, let's consider some common fallacies regarding love.

3 Common Fallacies About Love...
And the Truth about Love from God's Word:

Fallacy #1 - Love is primarily for the fulfillment and comfort of self.
This is so true when it comes to what many people believe about love. In fact, everytime you hear someone talking about how their needs aren't being met in a relationship, they're progating this idea about love. When a guy tells his girlfriend, "If you loved me, you'd do it!" Or when a girl dates the cool jock at school to inflate and raise her own social standing among her peers... regardless of which one is worse... both are primary examples of self-centered and self-focused love.
The Truth - Love is for the glory of God and for the good of others!
1 Peter 4:11 states, "that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ..." This is a universal truth of Scripture, that everything was created for the glory of God... including the concept of love. And Jesus taught us that true love is selfless, giving, and sacrificing; it dies to its own needs for the sake of others. As He stated in John 15:13, "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends."

Fallacy #2 - Love is primarily a feeling.
This is probably the majority opinion out there, that love is just a feeling. And I must admit that this seems right because we all have feelings of affection from time to time. But feelings do not define, measure, or govern true love. I have tremendous feelings toward my wife... but if my feelings aren't matched with actions of kindness, respect, and faithfulness, then my feelings don't mean squat!
The Truth - Love is measured and governed by our actions, not by feelings.
In Mark 14:32-36, Jesus was praying in the garden the night before his crucifixion. And the Bible shows us that he prayed with great fervency and prayed that if there was any other way for the Father's plan to be accomplished (the plan of redemption) to do it another way. Jesus was looking forward to the cross... He didn't have warm, fuzzy feelings about being stripped, beaten, and nailed to a cross. He was in tremendous spiritual and emotional agony about what was about to take place! Does that mean He didn't really love us as much as we like to think? Or worse that He didn't really love the Father as much? Were His emotions a good test of His love? Absolutely NOT!! Or was Jesus governed by His emotions; did they lead and direct Him?
Absolutely NOT!! If they had, He'd never went to the cross! After all that praying, Jesus still in great emotional agony prayed, "Nevertheless, not my will but Your will be done!" Jesus proved that He loved the Father and us, but going against His emotions and facing death anyway!

Fallacy #3 - Love is out of our control.
It is most likely that many of us propagate this false notion about love without even realizing it. We say things like "I think I'm falling in love..." or "Dude, I'm just madly in love!" Stop and think about it for a second... why in the world do we describe love like falling into a pit or worse like a mental illness? What do these statements and others like it reveal about our attitudes regarding love? That love is out of our control. But why teach that? I believe the answer is because it removes all personal responsibility from our lives. You see, if love is truly some external force that effects us that we have no control over, then we can excuse and justify all kinds of behavior... and not just pre-marital sex, but lying, murder, rape, and many other sins of the flesh have all been justified before by people claiming to be in love. Is this true love? Of course not!
The Truth- Love is completely under our control.
When considering what Jesus Christ did for us... Did God the Father choose to send Christ to die on the cross or was He compelled to by some external force? Did Jesus choose to go to Jerusalem to face His death or was He compelled to by some force? In all of it... in everything God has ever done for us, He did it because He chose to. He chose to create us... He chose to love us even after we rebelled... and He chose to die on a cross in our place.
And that same choice is ours today... I can choose to be kind, loving, and respectful to the people around me, or I can choose to be selfish, mean, and cruel. It's not about being under the control of some mysterious force that causes me to do all kinds of ungodly things without responsibility, its about choosing to put the needs and desires of others above my own in whatever relationship I'm involved with.

Hollywood and MTV shows us a hot, steamy love scene between two people and says "This is love." But God the Father takes His only Son and puts Him on a cross to pay for crimes that He didn't commit and says, "No, this is real love... my love for you." 1 John 4:10-11 states, "In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another."


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