Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Risks of Love

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.      I John 4:7-11(ESV)

Let's be honest, loving others is not easy. It requires a lot of effort and sacrifice on our part and it may or may not be reciprocated or even acknowledged. There are many things we risk if we are really willing to love others - our time, energy and money. Do our kids see us willing to sacrifice these things? Are we ready and willing to feed the hungry and give money to the poor? Kids get so caught up in "I want" and "I need" but they rarely  have a case of "let's give". We need to teach our kids to be generous not just by being an occasional giver, but by making a lifestyle habit out of loving others by sharing what we have. What if we take it a step further? If we are willing to get out of our comfort zone and love others besides relatives and friends, then we may also have to risk our agenda, position, or safety. It is easy to give money to a non-profit  or serve a meal at a shelter to strangers and faces without names. But, what if we really invested in someone in need: welcomed them into our home, got to know their family and situation, shared the gospel and took them to church? As I John says God loves us so much that He gave His only Son to be the payment for our sins. If God loves us like that, shouldn't we do everything we can to share that love with others?

A New View of Love

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends.     I Corinthians 13:4-8 (ESV)

There are many opinions about what love is - is it a verb, emotion, feeling, expression? The best definition I have found for love is from Voddie Baucham's book, Family Driven Faith, which says, "Love is  an act of the will accompanied by emotion that leads to action on behalf of its object" (57). This may sound complicated, but let's break it down a little bit. The world views love from a "Cupid" point of view. This view sees love as a force that is random, overwhelming, uncontrollable, and sensual- meaning we can't control who we fall in and out of love with or when it's going to happen and it's all based on romantic feelings. I don't think this is the kind of love the Bible teaches. This "Cupid" kind of love doesn't work in real life because it's not applicable to all relationships. If we really want to love our spouse, kids, friends and neighbors, we are going to have to change the way we think about and act out love. Based on the definition above, in order to love we must be willing to put others' needs/desires/wants in front of our own. It is a choice that has to be made daily (or sometimes moment by moment). This kind of love is not based on feelings that you may or may not have for a day or even season of life. Love is always about someone other than yourself. Consider how God loves us (John 3:16)...

Quote from: Baucham Jr., Voddie T., Family Driven Faith. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2007.)