What kind of Love is this?
When we come to consider a subject such as love we need to start from basics, because in our language and usage of this word it has become a very much misunderstood word; a culturally loaded word. We feel at times that in a Christian sense we would almost need to use a different word to convey love because it means different things to different people. Yet as we understand from the Bible love is a tightly defined word and not open to interpretation, it is an absolute word. It is a word that has parameters of operation, the law is summed up in the call to love God and to love our neighbour (Matthew 22:36-40). So if we want to understand what love looks like then we need to look to the law of God. God knowing our corruption has not left us in any doubt about what love looks like; He shows us its boundaries and its correct operation as defined within the law. If we cannot find it in the Law then it is not love, if we find it prohibited in the law then it is not love. Love is not based in our emotional likes and dislikes, we cannot trust the sway of our hearts as to what is right and wrong, as to what is love and what is not; we must follow God’s law of love. The foundation of Love is in absolute truth and holiness, in the submission of our wills to Gods will and not in the whims of a corrupt heart. As we have seen love has a quality of holiness but it has also an object. The Bible states that God is Love, but as has been said society has turned this biblical phrase around to claim not that God is Love but that love is god. If we can place the tag of love on any action or attitude or activity then it is entirely permissible. As long as we ‘love’ the object of our desire then according to society it is acceptable. There are many wrongs in society that are claimed to be right just because ‘love’ is involved, I don’t need to expand, but pause and consider, as I do the same, as to what we accept in society and what I accept within my own life because I ‘love’ it. We may have a misplaced love; and a misplaced love is a wrong love. It is a poor sign, indeed a dangerous sign when we as individuals or collectively call right wrong and wrong right. Yet we must remember that love, as stated in Romans 12:9, involves loving what is good and abhorring what is evil. Yes you read that right, Love actually involves hatred! The Bible says to truly love there are certain things we must hate. Love is not permissive acceptance of everything but an active hatred of what God hates and an active loving of what God loves, as revealed in His word. This verse in Romans reminds us that there are correct things to place our love on and incorrect things to place our love on. But the last; in this by no means exhaustive thought on love that I wish to highlight is that love costs. When we consider love we do not travel far in this life until we discover (outside of the trinity) and in a fallen world that love is intimately intertwined with pain. Within the trinity Love exists in its reciprocal perfection but within our fallen world this is not the case. It has been wisely said that we ought to fear the love that loves us because it can be the source of our heaven or hell. Where that love is greatest then that potential for pain is sharpest. When we stand at a graveside we feel the deep pain of love, as a relationship falls apart we feel the agony of love, the pain experienced by a mother who tends a sick child is a profound experience of loves pain. As is true in a human level God’s experience of love within this fallen world also involves pain. The pain that disease brings to love is nothing compared to what sin does to love. How painful for God to watch the perfection of that love He had in Eden be destroyed and marred by sin. We understand the pain a parent feels with a child who rebels who embraces sin who runs from them only to see them look back marred with sin, with a changed face and darkened eyes. Their hearts broken by the pain that sin brings to love. Like God watching the perfection of humanity and love destroyed by sin, to experience love broken. Love is the most powerful, most precious, yet delicate force in the universe, one that by its very nature opens oneself up to not only the greatest joys but also the deepest of pains. The Love of God has the power to transform anyone but how often we seek to transform Love into our image, to remake love as we see fit; to give it room for our sin. Let us submit to Gods boundaries of true Love, let us be careful to place our love in God, and let us be conscious that as we live in a fallen world as fallen people that true love has a cost, one cost as sinners we should gladly submit to, indeed embrace, is submission to the transforming love of God and the change it should bring to our lives. Let the true love of God as revealed correct and perfect us.