Summary: What is love? Laying ourselves down for others (some good stories)

More Than Chicken Soup

What is love?

I’m married to a scientist; some of her colleagues would describe love simply as a biochemical reaction in the brain that produces a variety of emotional stimuli and motivation for behavior. Is that love?

I’m part of the culture of the late 20th century Canada; my culture says that love and sex are the same thing. Is that love?

I’ve read some of the poets; for them love is an overwhelming feeling that consumes us – it is romance that sweeps me off my feet and causes me to behave irrationally. Is that love?

I don’t want the love described clinically by the scientists. I certainly don’t want the love that is inseparable from a physical act. And I don’t want a love that is intertwined with a fading feeling.

“This is how we know what love is:” – those are the first words of the passage of Scripture found in 1 John 3:16-20. Would you look that passage up in your Bible – 1 John 3:16-20, and would you follow along with me as I read it out loud. Keep your finger in this spot, as we work through this passage seeking to understand from it what love is, and how we are to love.


I began with the question, “What is Love.” In response to this, John gives us as clear and simple an explanation as is possible. 8 words: “Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.”

There you have it. What is love? “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.” If you want to truly know what love is you need look no further than the cross. If you want to truly know what love is you need look no further than the Son of God. If you want to truly know what love is you need look no further than the nail scars in the wrists of Jesus Christ God’s only Son WHO, for YOU, endured the pain and the shame and took upon Himself your sin and my sin so that you and I could be restored to right relationship with God. That is the Gospel – Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. He gave up his life so that we could have new life. He took the punishment for everything we have done that is wrong and opened the way for us to live in proper and holy relationship with the God of the Universe.

Have you accepted that love?

Have you received that gift?

We all ache to be loved. We all have an emptiness inside of us that longs to be known and accepted for just exactly who we are. It is in Jesus that the love we need and the love we crave so desperately is available, completely free, for us simply to receive.

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.”

Before going on, I need to ask you again – have you accepted that love? Have you said “Jesus I believe that you gave your life for me, I want to give my life back to you. Please forgive me for all of my sins; take control of my life, and make me your precious child.” If the Holy Spirit is nudging your heart right now to accept the love that Jesus offers than I encourage you to respond to Him, and begin the journey.

The starting point is always Jesus’ love for us. That is always the beginning. And the way it works is this: God’s love impacts us and changes us and recreates us, and then we respond to Him.

Sometimes we miss this starting point – we jump right ahead into what we should be doing and we get all legalistic and full of rules and regiments and end up focused on the things that we think we should be doing and leave Jesus out of it all together. That is wrong – our actions need to flow out of our knowledge and experience of Jesus’ love for us. Our behavior is our response, it is the outworking of the inward change.

How then should we respond? Look at the last half of verse 16 – “we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” Jesus laid down his life, we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. Pretty simple. We should be like Jesus.

Could you do that – lay down your life? That is the Biblical standard.

I don’t know if any of you have ever thought about what you would do if someone put a gun to your head and told you to deny your faith in Christ or die. On April 20, 1999, Cassie Bernall was in the library of Columbine High School studying the Bible. Two students started opening fire on students in the library. The killers asked, "Does anyone here have a faith in Christ?" Cassie stood up. When one of them got to her he said, "Do you believe in God?’’ Cassie did not deny the Lord, but rather boldly said, "Yes, I believe in Jesus." He then asked her, "Why?" and did not give her a chance to answer before he shot her. Would you face the gunman, affirm Jesus as your Lord and Savior, and pay the price of your life. Maybe you have decided that you would. Maybe you are prepared to give your life completely if faced with that choice.

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