We live in a world obsessed with love. It’s hard to read a book or watch a movie or even listen to a song that isn’t somehow about love. A common phrase on the Internet is so bold as to say, “A life without love is a life not worth living.” Actress Judy Garland once said, “I can live without money, but I cannot live without love.” The movie “Moulin Rouge!” began with the line, “The greatest thing you will ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.” The truth is we were made for community and without love we remain somehow incomplete.
Still not convinced that love is all that important? Read Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 13:1-3. In that passage Paul makes it clear that without love words are just noise. All of your gifts and abilities without love are utterly insignificant, and nothing you ever sacrifice will be of any value if it lacks love. So that leaves us with this:
“What is this love?”
Have you ever asked yourself that question? Have you ever sat down and thought, “For all the talk we hear about love, what exactly is it?”
Is it true that love is simply a powerful neurological condition like hunger or thirst, only more permanent, as scientist Jim Al-Khalili told The Guardian? Or is psychologist Deborah Anapol right when she tells us in Psychology Today that, “Love is a force of nature. However much we may want to, we cannot command, demand, or take away love, any more than we can command the moon and the stars and the wind and the rain to come and go according to our whims.”
Is love attraction? Is love that feeling that comes over us when we long to be around someone and miss them when they’re gone? Is love a duty? Does love last? Can it be mustered up from within or do we simply have to wait for it to fall on us? What is love?
Instinctually, we all know just how important love is, and yet no one seems to have a clear handle on exactly what it is. Did you know that in 2012 the most searched Google phrase was the question “What is love?” Can you believe that?
We live in a world that is radically confused about what love is and that is why so many people are searching for an answer. Not only are people confused about what love is, but they also have no idea where to look to find the answer (which is why they are searching for it on Google).
Let me ask you:I If you wanted to understand a painting, who would be the best person to talk to? The artist, right? If you wanted to understand the symbolism of a difficult poem you would talk to the poet. If you wanted to understand the design of a home you would talk to the architect. Well, if you want to understand love then you will want to talk to its author. You see, 1 John tells us “Love is from God.” He is the author. He is the source. In fact, John goes so far as to tell us “God is love.”
If you want to know about love might I suggest that you find out what the God who is love has to say about it?
In I Corinthians 13:4-8 the apostle Paul through the inspiration of the God of love writes, “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things, love never ends.”
But there is more. You see, the God of love didn’t just tell us what love is in his Word. He showed us what love looks like in his Son. I John 4:9-10 says, “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation of our sins.”
I can assure you that this definition exceeds anything that I was able to find on Google.
— by Tim Cain
Cain is the pastor of Kaleo Church, which he planted in El Cajon five years ago. He and his wife Abbey have two children. They are passionate about reaching the poor with the gospel and host a meal and Bible study for the homeless every Friday night in their home. For more information visit Kaleochurch.com.