Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Main Character

"I love these socks."

"I love my wife."

The word "love" seems to be thrown around pretty regularly these days, with no real distinction between different uses. For example, if you truly love your socks in the same way that you love your wife, people would consider you a freak. (And rightly so, might I add.)

It has been said that hate is a strong word. But, by the same count, so is love. Or at least, it's supposed to be. To give a metaphor that I believe to be apt, the word and concept of "love" is as overused as Farmville updates. And there seems to be no concensus on what it actually IS.

So how is it that we go about defining such an elusive idea? Its abstract nature is surely a daunting premise to even consider tackling. But at the same time, we find that the Bible tells us that the greatest commands are to love God and love others (Matt. 22:37-40), so it's pretty important that we get to the bottom of it.  Well, let's attack it with a sword.

*Cough* I'm talking about the Scriptures. *Cough*

Now, one of the greatest passages that ever discussed the subject of love is 1 Corinthians 13. I strongly encourage you to go read it right at this moment. I'll wait 'till you get back.

Done? Perfect. Now, if you read carefully, there's a lot of things that the passage defines love as. (patient, kind, humble, not arrogant, not rude... etc.) But out of all of these things, I have seen a common denominator.

He who loves is not focused on himself.

The life of someone who is consumed with love finds that he is completely focused on giving of himself for his God and his neighbor(everyone). I paraphrase an idea I once heard to illustrate this idea: he is no longer the main character in his own story.

Now that we have some affirmation from a passage of Scripture, let's take a look at one of the greatest examples of love. The one which Christians base off all of their understanding and appreciation of the concept:


I'm gonna try to keep this short: God created man. Man sinned and rebelled and continued to do so continuously. He took the precious gift of life and used it for his own selfish desires and whims. So God kills everyone cuz He's angry with them, right?

Wrong. Even though He was extremely upset because of the rebellion of man, he sends down His Son to die to take away the sins of a people who want nothing to do with Him. He sends Christ. The perfect spotless Lamb.

The Lamb loved us so much that he allowed His creation to spit on Him, mock Him, whip Him, and crucify Him so that they could be regenerated to a new relationship with Him. And as much as we don't want to believe it, we would have been right up there with the mob, watching Him die in excrutiating pain, and yelling insults. We are as much to blame now, for our sin, as they were to crucify Him. We deserve the same punishment.

Let me help you understand this idea of our responsibility for His death with a little illustration: If you were the only person on the planet, Christ would have died for you and only you. But if you were the only person on the planet, a question remains:

Who would have crucified Him?

The utterly inescapable answer is that we are just as much at fault for His death as his murderers were 2000 years ago.

And here comes (what I believe to be) one of the greatest single words in Scripture...

"BUT God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)

This is His love. And it's not just a general, blanket type of love. It applies to each one of us. Individually. In other words, we could just as well say, "while (insert your name here) was still a sinner, Christ died for him."

This is what I believe the Scriptures show as love. But it is a dual relationship. We cannot just suck up and continually receive love from the Father without spreading it to others.

So receive it.
Give it.
And live it.


So we can't say we love our socks, because the only reason we "love" them is because they keep are feet warm, which is purely selfish. I've never heard it personally from a sock, but I think wrapping myself around someone's foot would be quite awkward. ;)

Great explanation. Why does this seem to be the easiest thing to forget (loving others) when it is at the very basis of salvation?

Haha exactly! Our supposed "love" (relationships, not socks :P) often has a self-serving bias in selfishness. (What can this relationship/person do for me?)

To answer your question, I'm reminded of the hymn which says, "Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love." When we stray from God's proximity, we lose sight of what love is.

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