God has created us as love creatures. We have the capacity to receive and give love. When these two don’t flow harmoniously, then life becomes difficult. For e.g.- When a baby is born, we shower love on the child and work hard to take care of all its needs. Long, sleepless nights or a fussy baby won’t deter us. We won’t ask anybody else to look after the child until he or she is an adult. The child needs love and we are willing to give it. Now, if for some reason we are unable to give that love then the child is bound to feel disappointed and hurt. This is true for not just children but even adults.
Another apt example of man’s love creature status is evident in the secular love songs. There are two interesting aspects of love that are featured in these songs:-
1) Love as a feeling or an emotion
Do you remember hearing songs which gush about a heady feeling or unfulfilled craving? Most of the lyrics are aimed only at stirring up emotions in the listener. Sadly, this is a tragic reflection of the sin in the world.
2) Love as an involuntary act
Many youngsters make statements like ‘I have fallen in love. I have been swept off my feet. I am crazily in love’. These clichéd lines seem sentimental and romantic while at the same time giving the impression that they have helplessly ‘fallen’ in love. An air of involuntariness or lack of control appears to be the driving force.
BIBLICAL DEFINITION OF LOVE
Now, there is nothing involuntary or helpless or purely emotional about God’s definition of love. It is a purposeful act of giving of oneself. There is deliberation, decision, will and commitment involved in this love. Some people might try to talk us out of it and insist on just flowing with the feeling. That’s a very warped picture of love. We are created in the image of God who thinks wills, analyses and decides. That means we are also meant to be like Him, even in the way we love.
Let’s look up another Bible passage that describes Godly love.
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8
The tone and tense of these verses indicate that Biblical love is not just a bunch of emotions or feelings that flow through us without our knowledge. In God’s definition, love is a decision, choice and commitment.
With that background, let us now attempt to explain what is really meant by the phrase ‘God is love’.
…to be continued…