What is True Love? Ask 10 people you may get 10 elusive and different opinions and meanings.
Is it being happy? Having your needs met? A moment shared? Chemicals in our bloodstream? Electrical impulses in our brains? What does the Bible say about life and love?
In The Way of the Modern World, Or, Why it is Tempting to Live as if God Doesn’t Exist, Craig Gay points out our inability to Love without God.
When we lose sight of God, we also lose sight of ourselves. It is the thought of God, after all, that gives substance to words like ‘truth,’ ‘freedom,’ ‘justice,’ and ‘persons’: words which lend substance and meaning to human life. Without the thought of God such notions are empty or, at best, only convenient fictions. A completely secular society is, therefore, not simply ‘godless,’ but impersonal and inhumane as well.
Love is one of those words that requires a story or, greater, a person to give it meaning and life. The whole point about being a Christian is that we don’t know what love is on our own. God showed us what love is in Jesus. God is pure love and he has made that known to us by being present as a human and showing his love in his life, mission and passion.
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have 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. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. (1 John 4:7-12 ESV, emphasis added)
My sister was dating a rugby player. He was massive, built like a tank. He was a solid guy too. Really nice and came from a great family. He knew I had questions about his relationship with my sister and took me aside, “You really don’t want me to marry your sister, do you?”
“Look, I know my sister is a hard person to love,” I replied. “We all can be. My question is when you are at the end of your patience and love for her what is going to happen? What is going to keep your relationship fresh and strong? What source do you have in your life to tap into when you are all spent?”
When we surrender our lives to Jesus, he returns the favour and gives us his whole self by the indwelling of The Holy Spirit. At this point the love of the Father and the Son is made manifest in believers. There is a boundless resource in the life and love of God that dwells within us.
The invitation from God is to participate in God’s self-giving nature. That is what love is. Through Jesus we are invited into the very nature of the Triune God. When we are at the end of our own resources we are in the perfect position to rely on the love and strength of God. At the end of the day we can look back and say – “I lived through Jesus. Love is being perfected in me!”
Prayer of St. Francis
“Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.”