Summary: What is love? How will I know love when I see it? Is it just something I feel inside? Is it just a word we say? What the World says about love and what the Word says about love are two very different ideas.
One of my main languages is music, so I’m going to be quoting some popular songs of my era that talk about love this morning since it is, after-all, Valentine’s Day. I hope you don’t mind. In the popular 80s song by the group Foreigner, the lead singer passionately sings – “I wanna to know what love is. I want you to show me. I wanna feel what love is. I know you can show me.” Some have even tried to claim that this is a Christian song talking about Christian love. It really isn’t. Instead, I believe it is cry for what the world wants to know. They see so many examples of what love isn’t. They see things done “In the name of love”, that do not seem like love at all. That’s another good 80s song btw.
Another song by the group Van Halen says – “How do I know when it’s love? I can’t tell you but it lasts forever. How does it feel when it’s love? It’s just something you feel together.” So ambiguous. So uncertain. So vague. There’s a lot of confusion about love. Either love is just a feeling that you fall in and out of, or love is just physical desire, physical attraction, and physical intimacy - According to the world.
We all need love. We all crave love. Feeling unloved and unwanted is a terrible way to live. Love is an essential part of life. And yet so many have been hurt or scarred by what the world calls “love.” Many have been used and abused by something called “love,” enough for those to say “Love stinks, Love hurts, Love bites, Love stings, and I hate myself for loving you.” And yet in our search for love, we endure hurt after hurt, and many broken hearts until we find the “right one” for us. That is the common experience of a greater portion in this world of sin.
In Matthew 24:12-13 (NIV) Jesus said about the last days…
Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold…
There’s a song that says – “You’re as cold as ice; you’re willing to sacrifice our love.”
Another group sings – “Is this love that I’m feeling? Is this the love that I’ve bee searching for?” Could we say that it’s true that the people of this world are crying out for love, desperate to find true love, unconditional love, love that lasts forever?
Where are they going to find it? The secular Movies or music present a very distorted and unrealistic view of love. Their friends or family show a love full of breakups and divorces, love that is more about fulfilling my needs than thinking of others. Well, what about the Church? Unfortunately there are a lot of people who call themselves Christians that can be very hateful, judgmental, and unforgiving. So what can we look to for love – real love?
How about the one who IS LOVE? The one who defines love by who He is – God.
Before Webster ever created a dictionary to define the word, there was God’s Word who spoke of the one who demonstrated for us perfect love in His Son and defined love by His own nature. So we look to God’s Word for what love is all about.
The word “love” occurs 567 times in the NIV. This is compared to faith being mentioned 259 times in the Bible and truth being mentioned only 135 times. This beats salvation which mentioned only 115 times. The only words that are mentioned more than love in the Bible are God (3995 times) and Lord (7479 times).
The two greatest commandments of God, according to Jesus, involved love – love for God and love for people. Jesus said that the entire law and the prophets are based on these two commandments – “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. And love your neighbor as yourself.” That love is the fulfillment of the law. Paul said in I Corinthians 13 (known as the love chapter) that love is the greatest of all the gifts of God, that nothing else matters if you do not love. [Think of that, an entire chapter dedicated to one word – Love.] And finally, Jesus says that the way people will know that we are His followers, His disciples, that we belong to Him, is by our love for one another.
How will the World know what love is? By how true Christians treat one another.
Let’s look now to God’s Word and what God says about what love really is.
Please Turn in your Bibles to... 1 Corinthians chapter 13
Now first of all, why did Paul write this? The Apostle Paul is the author. He wrote these words as a letter to the Church in Corinth. The Church in Corinth has come to be known as Paul’s most troublesome church. They were full of divisions within the church, quarreling, jealousy, and following people rather than God. Many in the church were boasting about their wisdom and possession of spiritual gifts, comparing themselves to one another. There was sexual immorality and idolatry among the members. Christians were taking each other to court and filing lawsuits against one another. The Lord’s Supper had become a free-for-all, first-come-first-serve kind of thing. People were cutting in line, taking more than their share, and leaving none for others. There was much disunity in the body. Christ’s followers in this church were not representing the love of God very well at all. In fact, if you were a non-believer and you saw what was happening in this church, you would think they’re no better than what I see the world do. Paul never wrote a letter as strong and scolding as the ones he wrote to the Church in Corinth.