This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
1 John 4:10
It’s when we face for a moment
the worst our kind can do, and shudder to
know the taint in our own selves, that awe
cracks the mind’s shell and enters the heart:
not to a flower, not to a dolphin,
to no innocent form
but to this creature vainly sure
it and no other is god-like, God
(out of compassion for our ugly failure to evolve) entrusts,
as guest, as brother, the Word.
LOVE. The word is over-used that it has taken on various shades of meaning. So often we hear expressions like ‘love is a many splendored thing’, ‘all is fair in love’, or ‘love conquers all’. “I love you to the moon and back,” is a popular social media post shared among friends.
We use the term to describe something we very much enjoy doing (“I love skiing”), to express admiration (“She loves Josh Groban’s songs”), and how we feel about loved ones – our families and friends. I love you.
What is love, real love?
The apostle, John, teaches us that love comes from God for God is Love.
That God sent His one and only Son to stubborn, ungrateful, adulterous people who had no love for Him, to bear our sins upon Himself, to be so shamed and wounded, to wash our sins away by His blood, to suffer and die so we can have life in Him forever – that is real love. This Love is God Himself who comes to us in Jesus Christ.
Have we received Jesus Christ? Receiving Christ calls for a response on our part. If Christ truly lives in us and we claim to be His followers, then we ought to love one another. We love because God first loved us (1 Jn 4:19). Apart from God real love is not possible because real love can only flow out of the ultimate source of a life of love – the triune God Himself.
There are times when it is not easy to love. Paul pleads that we lead a life worthy of our calling for we have been called by God, and to make allowance for each other’s faults because of our love (Eph 4:1-2). “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you” (vv 2, 31).
Knowing God who out of sheer love has given us the gift of new life in Christ, may we learn to love as He did: to humble ourselves in obedience to Him, giving our lives in radical service so that others might experience real, unconditional love that comes only from the one, true God who is Love.
Music: “Love Came Down at Christmas,” from Behold That Star (CD Collection of Christmas Songs and Carols), produced by David Huntsinger, Discovery House
Poetry: “On the Mystery of the Incarnation,” Denise Levertov (1923–1997), The Collected Poems of Denise Levertov (New York: New Directions, 2013).