Summary: We must love as Christ loves us.
Time and time again we hear about people “falling out of love” and deciding that their relationship just isn’t worth keeping. They decide to go and file for a divorce because the luster that was there just doesn’t exist any more. Teenagers act much the same way having a different boyfriend or girlfriend every few weeks or every couple of months. They say they love the other person in the relationship but in all honesty they haven’t even begun to understand what love is in the first place. Fickle and fad-like affection has been running rampant for the last three decades and shows no signs of stopping in the near future. It has become a now common statistic that the rate of divorce in the church now exceeds the rate of divorce in the world. (51% found in the church and 50% found in the world). Why is this? Has the church done something wrong or have we lost the biblical meaning of the idea of love?
History has many precedents that apply to this idea of the need for human relationships. One scholar tells a gruesome story about what happens when babies do not get tender and loving care. “We can live only in relationships. We need each other. A rather crude and cruel experiment was carried out by Emperor Frederick, who ruled the (Holy) Roman Empire in the thirteenth century. He wanted to know what man’s original language was: Hebrew, Greek, or Latin? He decided to isolate a few infants from the sound of the human voice. He reasoned that they would eventually speak the natural tongue of man. Wet nurses who were sworn to absolute silence were obtained, and though it was difficult for them, they abided by the rule. The infants never heard a word—not a sound from a human voice. Within several months they were all dead.”
Loving relationships hold an extremely important part of our development not only as persons but as Christians as well. Just as a child needs a loving and nurturing environment to grow up emotionally healthy and stable, so does the Christian need the love of God and of fellow Christians to grow stronger spiritually. Both will live and act just like those who modeled it for them. If children grow up with bickering and abusive parents, they too will someday grow to be the same. Christians tend to have the same habit. If they are raised in a hypocritical environment, then their tendency will be to become exactly like those they lived with. John 13:34 says “"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."” Jesus spent his entire ministry explaining what God meant by all the laws he had given in the Old Testament such as do not murder. Jesus explained that hating a brother was the same as murdering them but here Jesus gives a new command. We must love just like Christ loves us. However society has skewed the meaning of the word love and examples are sometimes few and far between. We will look at the definition and several examples of love. Lastly we will look at the “so what” of the command from Christ.
The Definition – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
American English makes using the term “love” very difficult because the term can be expressed for just about anything and have almost any connotation. Love can mean like such as in “I love pizza.” It can have a sexual connotation as well such as “making love.” It can also have the idea of infatuation or puppy love which can usually be found between teenagers many times. Let’s not forget the slight differences we make between love of a family member such as your wife and your children and the love of a relative such as your brother, sister, mother, and father. Children have a funny way of dealing with someone who says love a lot. “Well, if you love it so much, why don’t you marry it?” Still, the uses for the word get even deeper and darker such as how society uses it today. The terms lust and love have become synonymous in the culture we live in today where outer beauty and the ability to flaunt it add up to attraction. This “attraction” appeals not to the whole of a person but to their desires. Trends in fashion continue to press towards the inevitable day when nobody will wear cloths at all. String bikinis make a perfect example of how this is happening. The world has taken a wonderful idea and turned it into a corrupt and evil way of living.
The terms for love had been corrupted long before the Bible was actually compiled into a single book. The Greeks and Romans both adhered to the taboo “love” called bisexuality. They refused to accept homosexuality by itself but so long as it was accompanied by a person of the opposite gender, it was ok. Onto this scene came Jesus Christ, the apostles, and the Bible. The love chapter, as it’s called, found in 1 Corinthians 13 summarizes the idea of what love is and what love isn’t. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. Love never fails.” Now that we’ve been overwhelmed with this massive list lets look at each piece quickly. There are two sides to the list; the do’s and the don’ts. Love helps a person be patient with others failures and kind hearted. A heart filled with love always wants to hear the truth, always look out for others, always believes in others, always keeps its hope in Christ, and always withstands the test of time. On the other side of the coin, love doesn’t desire what others have, does not brag about itself, and does not put themselves above others. Love does not act mean and does not intentionally look out for number 1. It never counts the faults of someone else, especially to use against them and never desires to do evil. That should go down into the Guinness world book of records for the longest and most accurate definition of a word.