Have you ever thought or asked out loud, “do you love me?” It is a dangerous question. Often it is asked out of anger or confusion because of something that happened or didn’t happen. Other times it is a genuine and vulnerable question from someone needing encouragement.
I have thought it before, so have you.
The technical reason behind asking this question is something or someone is not meeting expectations. Which leads me to another question, What do you expect of someone who says they love you?
What exactly are they committing to and what kind of attitudes and actions can you expect from them?
I am curious about what other people are curious about. There is a list that comes out every year of the most “googled” questions. Most of them are basic information like “what is my ip address”, “how old is Dolly Parton” or “what time is it”.
There are also a surprisingly large number of searches around relationships, the meaning of life and how to be happy.
One recently caught my eye, “what is love”? My guess is most are asking this from a romantic place but I wonder if some are looking around at their family, culture or society and wondering what love is.
A quick search (google of course) comes up with a few different answers. A website called the conversation defined love as … is an emotion that keeps people bonded and committed to one another.
Other definitions include Love involves emotions and behaviors characterized by passion, intimacy, and commitment. While it is usually positive, love is complex and variable.
Finally one author said Love is food!
As usual, lots of opinions. It is tricky because a person may say they love their dog, loves freedom, or loves God. Obviously they don’t all mean the same thing.
The Greek language actually realized love was too complex for one word. They used four different words to try to capture this elusive idea.
Eros – means the kind of love experienced in a romantic relationship
Storge – love found in a close family relationship
Philia – love of friends or neighbors and in the Bible, fellow believers
Agape – God’s love for humanity. This is the word used in the famous passage John 3:16, God so loved (agape) the world, He gave His only son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.
Later the same John who wrote John 3:16 wrote in 1 John 4:8, God is love. Important to note love is not God. Everything God does is loving, it is an attribute or core aspect of who He is.
It could take a series of books to cover any of these topics. We are going to explore Eros in an upcoming series called After I Do at Mountain Ridge church in August. You can come to live services or check them out on our YouTube channel beginning Sunday, August 7th.
What about Philia love though? Loving friends, neighbors and other believers. What does that love look like?
Honestly it is a tough concept. We have seen a war breakout in Europe, a violent and unpredictable level of crime sweep through society and sadly several shootings. Our culture is very divided and hostile. Even if you don’t know what love is, you know this is not it!
If you are not a follower of Jesus what I am writing doesn’t apply to you. If you are a follower of Jesus what I am writing is not a good idea, suggestion or even a prescription, it is a mandate.
Yes society has changed. No Christians are not always welcomed into the public square. There is a frightening lack of morality and civility and many privileges we had in decades past we have lost. Yet none of those things change what Jesus expects.
We have such an incredible opportunity to be counter-cultural, to shine a bright light in a dark and confused space. To believe with confidence the truth about who Jesus is, what Jesus has done and the gift of life He gives. How He overcomes every hurt, failure and rash of anger.
It happens not with a program, a change of laws, a political fight but by love. It has happened before, it can happen again.
What is love? What does it look like in today’s world?
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails” 1 Cor 13.
Love looks like sacrifice.
It is love that insists on being FOR other people, even if they don't agree. It is love that puts power and meaning behind the words we say. It is love that brings people back to God.
Without it, there really isn't much anything worth much of anything.
This is love!
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