Understanding Love 

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Understanding Love 

It’s probably the most misused and abused word out there. I say this because we as individuals don’t fully comprehend the magnitude of what love is. We’ve made it conditional. We’ve perverted the meaning of love and molded it into manipulation. We’ve confined it to a neat little box that holds our own qualities when we really look at it. Haven’t we done that with everything we struggle to wrap our minds around? Haven’t we done that with God? Our inability to fully comprehend His unique grandeur and glory has caused us to place limitations on Him. It has caused us to view God as another one of His creations- limited, bound, and dependent. This isn’t the case at all. It couldn’t be farther from the truth. In this manner, we’ve corrupted the true meaning of love.  

In 1 Corinthians 13, the Word expounds extensively and explicitly on what love is. It states, “Love is patient and kind…” yet we’ve rejoiced in the idea of being cold towards each other. We’ve jumped on the bandwagon of being uncompassionate and painting the act as ‘protecting ourselves.’ “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…” but we have normalized jealousy, basked in it, and dressed it up as a healthy type of love. “Love bears all things, believes all things, endures all things…” yet we flee at the first sign of hardship. We ostracize individuals when mere patience and endurance would remedy the situation.  

While evaluating what love is and how we humans have transformed its true meaning, it is undeniable that God is the true meaning of love. His Word proclaims that not only is He the perfect example of love (which is an insane underestimation), but “God is love.” (1 John 4:16)  

They go hand in hand. The blueprint of love is God. The original design and make of love are literally the Father.  

Comparing God’s love to our diluted version of love is no comparison at all. His love is simply unconditional. We see this in the very meaning of the Gospel. The very heart of the Good News is that “God shows His love for us in that while we were sinners, Christ died for us.” Bask in that reality for a moment. The Son of God, who knew wholeheartedly that people would still choose to reject Him, decided to lose His life for us. The beautiful part about this fact is that He’d do it all again because there is no “height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, that will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8: 39) He didn’t die for just the people that would accept Him or Christians. While we turn our noses up at the Hindu man, the gay girl, or the pregnant teenager, Jesus’s death has also covered their sins, showcasing the highest form of love.  

I used to believe that we could never fully understand love because we couldn’t fully comprehend the splendor and power of God. However, after some insight, a few conversations, and just good godly wisdom, I realized I was completely wrong. We have the ability not only to understand the concept and emotion of love but we are also capable of loving like Jesus. This is because our perfect triune God bestowed upon the gift of the Holy Spirit after we decided to accept Jesus as our Saviour and be water-baptized. Because of the Holy Spirit, our guide, advocate, and friend, we can understand and show the type of love that 1 Corinthians 13 highlights.  

However, our very human nature makes it difficult for us to exhibit perfect love. When we recognize our fragility and brokenness as individuals and the need for the perfect God to abide in us, we acquire a strength we did not know we possessed. His Word says, “whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15: 5). We can’t love like Jesus or even understand love on our own. We need Him so that we can learn how to love ourselves, our neighbors, and most importantly, Him to the best of our ability. 

Loving is hard. But let’s vow to wave our white flags and surrender ourselves to abiding in Jesus and His incomprehensible love. It starts with denying yourself every day and drinking in the presence of who God is.  

Taija Stephens

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