Lately I have been hearing a whole lot of talk about love– what love is and what it is not both in secular and in faith circles. And what I find fascinating is that we talk about love in so many ways. Love is defined. according to Google search, as An intense feeling of deep affection, a deep romantic attachment. But we all know that though we each have had some experience with this kind of love, we still are not sure what love really is. In one of my recent blogs, I quoted Tina Turner’s line in a song: Love is a second-hand emotion.
As Christians, do we have a different understanding of love? Yes we do. Love has a name. And that name is Jesus.
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. (I John 4:8)
So any definition we might come up with for love pales in comparison to what love really is. Love is a person; someone who for the love of mankind, gave up His life. Why? Because He loved us intensely. His demonstration of love was to lay down His life for us.
This is how we know what love is; Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. (I John 3:16)
Now it gets personal. Jesus demonstrated love to us and we must do the same by laying down our lives for our brothers and sisters. And that is precisely what I want to talk about today.
We live in a self-centered, “me-focused” world. I watched an episode of The Office last night and I laughed so hard, I could hardly contain myself. The safety officer in the office was trying to teach the people in the office a lesson. They did not pay any attention to his power point presentation on safety specifically if a fire were to erupt in the building. So he stealthily set up a fake fire to see if they could remember how to safely respond. People began running around. They couldn’t unlock the doors. Some climbed through the ceiling, broke the glass in the windows to escape and one man shouted out (the boss, that is), “every man for himself.” The scene was quite funny but yet it made me think about how we react in a crisis. Do we reach out to our brothers or sisters in need or do we have the attitude, “every man for himself? ” I personally have done both.
Laying our lives down for another may not mean saving someone from a fire at great risk to ourselves, but in a real way it could mean challenging ourselves to give something up in order to give to another. It means sacrifice.
What does this have to do with love? Love is offering kindness, care, and hope to others in tangible ways. Love is getting so close to Jesus that His ways become our ways; that our false selves must give way to our true selves in Christ. Love is not a condition that must be treated. Love is a condition that must be nurtured so that it becomes unconditional, not conditional. Love has a name and that is Jesus. He is the One who teaches us how to love. Any other definition of love falls short.