Thornleigh Seventh-day Adventist Church (Sydney, Australia)

Home > Online Magazine > Online Magazine: Edition 37 - October/November 2010 > Love Is ... (by Erica Green)

Love Is ...

by Erica Green

 
Love Is ... - A biblical view of what love is

 
Many of you would be familiar with the "love is " cartoon series created by Kim Grove.  If you are not, then "google" it and I am sure that you will find many examples.  Every cartoon starts with the statement "love is " and provides a cartoon depiction of something which concludes that sentence.

Love is a construct that is so central to the concepts of Christianity and the bible that I wondered what it has to say about what "love is ".  Perhaps a little more verbose than the pithy sayings in the cartoon, but I think that the biblical stance may be summarized something along these lines:-

Love is the complete expression of God

So let's start with the real big one.  " God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him." (1 John 4:1, NIV)  This text does not say that God is a loving person or that he does loving things, although of course he does.  No, it says that he 'is' love.  Any love that exists on this planet emanates from Him. 

Love is a verb

Love is not something that you hold or possess; rather it is something that you do.  Try using the word love in a sentence without any object attached to it.  Love cannot survive in a vacuum; it must express itself in order to exist. 

So if God is love, in what way does He give expression to love? It was love that was the motivational force for God to create us in the first place, despite having advance knowledge of what a mess we would make of it.  It was love that was the motivational force for God to redeem us in the second place.  "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16, NIV)

Love is all consuming

Both the Old and the New Testament tell us of the all consuming nature of love.  "Jesus replied: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matthew 22:37-38, NIV)  "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts" (Deuteronomy 6:4-6, NIV)

We are to love with our:-

We cannot truly love unless all of our being is caught up in the process, that is, if we are talking about the perfect love that is the complete expression of who God is and the kind of love that He desires for us. 

Popular culture focuses on the emotional aspect of love to the detriment of the others.  Similarly, we can make the same mistake by focusing on one aspect to the detriment of the others. 

Love is expressed indiscriminately

God's character demands of us the expression of love in equal measure for both our friends and our enemies.   " Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind and Love your neighbor as yourself." (Luke 10:27, NIV)  "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?" (Matthew 5:43-47, NIV)

So not only are we to love with all of our being (heart, soul and mind), but we are also to marshal all of these elements in expressing acts of love towards our enemies.  I don't know about you, but I might be able to show love to my enemies through a pure act of intellect or stubborn will, but I have real trouble getting my heart to come along for that journey. 

Love is what Love Does (and Doesn't Do)

It is behavior that counts and the apostle Paul proffers a whole list for our consideration.

Love does

Love does not . . . but rather . . . Love does

(1 Corinthians 13:4-8, NIV)

Love is perfected even through our imperfection

We are way less than perfect and do not know how to 'do' love as God indended but instead we do the best that we can.  In this situation, I believe that God accepts our feeble expressions of love and will use them for His glory regardless of our imperfections.  Despite having all sinned (Rom 3:23), God created us to do good works which He has prepared in advance for us (Eph 2:10).  Paul tells us (1 Corinthians 1:26-31) that God actively chooses the less than perfect, the weak and foolish amongst us in order to shame the wise and the strong. 

We then go full circle, back to our first "love is ", "for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose" (Philippians 2:13, NIV)

Any love that exists on this planet emanates from God.  Anything good that exists on this planet springs from Him.  When God uses our imperfect attempts, we have nothing to boast of in our own actions but rather we boast in Christ alone, in his perfection.

My prayer for you

Make mistakes, by all means, but don't ever stop doing the best that you can when it comes to loving others. 

Home > Online Magazine > Online Magazine: Edition 37 - October/November 2010 > Love Is ... (by Erica Green)