As I was reflecting and preparing to teach a class recently, I thought the 3 most important questions in the world must be:
- Who do people say I am? (Jesus)
- What is truth? (Pilate to Jesus)
- And what is love?
In our quest to enjoy what’s real in life (truth/reality), we should know that the meaning of words, language, images, and thought itself is being altered. It will open the door to deception and corruption in our lives.
Let’s not be confused and shallow about what love is …
Valentine … no greater love
Valentine was a priest in the third century who defied the edict of the Roman emperor Claudius II and paid for it with his life.
Claudius believed that unmarried soldiers fought better because they were not concerned about their wives and families. So he banned marriage for young people.
Realizing the injustice of the edict, Valentine continued to marry young couples in secret. He was caught and sentenced to death in 269 A.D. by beating, stoning, and finally beheading.
And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives full in the fullness of God (Eph. 3:17-19 MSG).
Valentine was later commemorated as a saint. February 14 has been the date to remember him in history.
After commanding us to love one another as he loved us, Jesus said there is no greater love than to lay down our lives for our friends (see John 15:12-13).
Valentine was certainly an example of this. His love for God motivated him to love others … for God is love (1 John 4:8).
C’mon, Baby, I love you. Forever.
In English we say “I love steak,” “I love my pet,” “I love my wife or husband,” and “I love God.”
And we say, “Let’s make love.” We hear a song something like this …
“Girl, I saw you for the first time just 2 hours ago … I’ve been gazin’ your way all night … c’mon let’s get outta here … … let me show you around this town … and then, maybe (oh, it’s gotta be, baby) we’ll have a long, long night and you can show me around. It will be transcendent, baby. Cause I love you. It’s forever.”
No, songwriter, I’m sorry, you love yourself. You’re infatuated in a moment in time — probably more infatuated with yourself than anything. What’s it like to think with your glands?
You see what I mean? There is so much confusion about love.
A commitment for the highest good of another
Let’s not be deceived — the highest expression of romantic and sexual love is within marriage. God designed it. And the truth is that it’s a reflection of the powerful, sacred romance between Christ and His bride, the Church.
The highest-grade of love is self-denial, even to the point of death, in the interests of another. This is the God-kind of love.
“God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son …” (John 3:16). Jesus denied Himself for our ultimate good.
Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails …
This significant passage shows us what love does and does not do. The Greek language in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NABRE) contains 15 verbs! Love actively pursues the highest interests and well-being of another. Is this not how God loved us by giving us His Son?
Love is the Christ ethic. It is action with the higher good in mind — the higher good of others and our own higher good.
See Hebrews 12:2.
So what is your perspective? Do you think our culture is confused about love? How would authentic love transform our lives and society?