I need something other
I would believe if I was able
But I’m waiting on the crumbs from your table
Love God. Love your neighbor. Love one another. Love the hurting.
Love is more than a greeting card. It’s more than a mushy feeling of infatuation. In biblical context love is usually presented as a verb. Even when presented as a noun, love is the result of action. We have a difficult time comprehending biblical love because we tend to restrict it to the emotional dynamic. We give a hug, smile and say, “I love you.”
The movie “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” with Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey portrays how our society sees love and it makes us laugh at ourselves. But, did you catch the underlying current in that movie? The “l” word is scary. If you want to push someone away in a relationship talk about love, the future and life together. That will send them running!
Parts of our society tries to lessen love. Grandma rocker Tina Turner even calls it a “second hand emotion” and nothing more than an “old fashioned notion.” At the same time, shows like The Bachelor parade dozens of attractive women for an eligible male while steeping romance with food, champagne, limousines and luxury all for voyeuristic television audiences who root for true love.
It’s clear that we’re confused.
The Greek uses a some distinct words for love. I’m not a Greek scholar by any stretch but I do see eros (romantic), phileo (brotherly) and agape (compelling and doing) love. The New Testament uses agape when discussing God’s love and our love for Him. Agape is the love of God that compels us to act. It’s a deep, deep love that is more about doing than feeling.
In the Hebrew language of the Old Testament we see ahabah (ahav) as a description of the love of God. When referring to God it’s an action-based, community, relationship type of meaning that is bathed in commitment, faithfulness and responsibility. It is an identity-swallowing, consuming love that thrills God and benefits others simultaneously. (I invite my linguist readers to help me out with my understanding.)
When Jesus speaks of love it is not just a second-hand emotion. The whole of scripture paints love as a shaping, defining, faithful, protecting, consuming phenomenon. It colors everything about God and everything about His children. The Hebrew presentation of love connects with agape seamlessly.
Godly love compels us to love others. It compels us to see His concern when we look into the eyes of the hungry, the orphan and the single mom. It is the law of God written on every man’s heart and the reason the world outside the church looks in with skeptical eyes. They have a sense of what the people of God should be about. It is the reason the jobless man, down on his luck and facing financial disaster, comes through the front doors humbly seeking help.
If we are immersed in discussions of signs and wonders or too busy running from bible study to bible study or chasing after the next adrenaline-pushing worship experience at the expense of the people Jesus lovingly came to rescue, we must step back and look in the James’ mirror.
James said that the person who lets the life-changing message of Jesus go in one ear and out the other without acting on it is like a guy who looks in a mirror and walks away forgetting what he looks like. (James 1:22-27) Can you see it? It’s like we smile in the mirror, see a big chunk of spinach in our teeth and walk out doing nothing about it. It just doesn’t make sense! We can go through the day smiling big and pretty as though there’s nothing there but we’re kidding ourselves. We can fill our days with religious activities, we can read all the Christian authors, we can journal our daily study of scripture and fill our iPODs with great Christian music but the measure of our understanding of Jesus is seen in our loving others.
What if I really don’t love others? What if, truthfully, I really don’t care? Should I go out and start doing good things? Please don’t. Instead, clear your schedule and rest with God. (Matthew 11:28-30) Hang out with Jesus and let Him teach you. Let your doing come from your loving and being loved by God.