This Weird and Wonderful Thing Called Love

It is Heart Month here in America and Valentine’s Day-love day is this week. So I thought that I would pass along to our readers some thoughts on love. First and foremost I would tell you that I am no expert on this. And beyond that I would point to a different source, and tell you that the Bible is a love book. Just to think about it brings love verses to your mind. Probably the best known verse in the Bible is John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Beyond that listen to Jesus as He was being quizzed by some people about the greatest commandment to which He responded, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matt. 22:37-39).

The more you think about love the broader the scope of scripture becomes for your understanding and mine for when we arrive at the Love chapter, I Corinthians 13, the Apostle Paul explains that whoever we are and whatever we do, if it is not laced with love it amounts to nothing. While the Bible is a book of love, the church is an experience of love. I know that there are times that it is not. Sometimes people lose perspective, and they see us as this institution or organization where people just gather and make sounds that are supposed to be musical, say prayers that are supposed to be spiritual and listen to sermons that are supposed to be engaging. Then they leave without experiencing love. Yet Jesus said, “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, because you have love one to another” (John 13:35). The church is supposed to be a gathering of God’s people where the atmosphere of our relationships is charged with the love of God and the love that we have one for another.

Love is a weird and wonderful thing because wherever it is, it makes a dynamic difference. Take two people who are in love, or the love of a grandparent for those special grandchildren, or the love of a grandchild for those maturing grandparents or the wonderful bonding effect and caring relationship that evolves over years in friendship. Love does amazing things. As you think about love this Valentine’s Day, let me give you three thoughts about love that may help you understand what is taking place.

Love needs to be tangible. Love is always better seen than it is heard. Now in reality love is invisible. You have never seen a jar filled with love. You cannot go to the store and look over some of the goods and buy a carton of love. You cannot order love from LifeWay Christian Resources. And while it may have beautiful expressions of sounds, words and songs, it is still the most powerful when it is expressed and when it takes on flesh and blood and smiles, touches, or even nods caringly.

Throughout the Old Testament God told us He loved us. But love came to its highest and most magnificent expression when He sent His Son to live among us. In the midst of our faults, failures and frustrations, He showed us that He loved us. It is true that you can say, “I love you,” but it takes on its cloak of authenticity when you show that you love. It doesn’t have to be Valentine’s Day for you to find some tangible way to show that you love someone.

Love needs to be flexible. People who love seem to be wrapped up in a multiplicity of things that help them relate to those around them. They are gentle, gracious, understanding, forgiving, compassionate and caring. The hard edges of life seem to be smoothed away and the sweet caring things of life seem to be apparent everywhere.

Listen to the Apostle Paul as the Spirit of God guides him in describing love. “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails” (1 Cor. 13:4-8a). In a world that is often dominated by I want my way and I do not care about your way, it only demonstrates how little love we often have and express to one another.

A final thought about love is that it is inexhaustible. Now everyone needs to be the recipient and the giver of love. There are no age boundaries around love. Young, old and middle-age all need it, and all can give it. When you think about love being inexhaustible, it is true yet here is the problem. The more you share love the more love that you have to share. The more you hold on to love the less of it you have to give. Let me show you love at work anywhere you put it. For a moment set aside the chapter and verse breaks, and just listen as Paul writes to the church at Ephesus with these instructions. “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savor” (Eph. 4:32–5:2).

It is amazing how much Jesus loved us, and it is even more amazing that this very day His love is as fresh, new, encouraging and life-changing as it ever was. It is inexhaustible. Now we are to turn and do likewise in loving those around us. Our love is not to include those that we just love dearly and exclude everyone else, but it is to be exhibited toward all. Jesus told His disciples, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (John 13:34).

I think about that rag-tagged bunch of folks that He chose to be disciples and I sometimes wonder how in this world He could love them. At times they were fussing and fighting, and He loved them. At other times they were frustrated and doubting, and He loved them. At other times they were failures, and He kept on loving them. Likewise, He does the same for you and me and so we are to love. Share some love today and watch as God restores your soul.

Jim Futral
Executive Director-Treasurer