Guest Blog Post: Nathan W. Ghattas
Love is undeniably the main theme of the Bible. It’s about God’s love for us. The turning point in all of history, the pinnacle moment that allowed all peoples to be reconciled with the God we walked away from and denied, was Christ being glorified on the cross. Christ, the perfect and blameless, died the slow agonizing death we all deserve. “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” “For the wages of sin is death.” This was not an act of pity or wrath or judgement, but the truest act of love ever recorded. “For God so loved the world…”
In 1 John 4:8, John states that “God is love.” We are told we are loved by God. We are commanded over and over to love. “Love your neighbor as yourself.” “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” “Husbands, love your wives.” But what is love? And no, the answer to that question is not “baby don’t hurt me.” Both believers and non-believers have been obsessed and driven by the power of love since time began. Why is it that humans have such an innate desire to love and be loved? I believe that the best explanation can be found in the Bible. “God is Love.” “God created man in His own image.” It’s hereditary.
We want to love because our Father loves. However, at the fall all things on earth were corrupted in some shape or form, including love. Not love itself mind you, since true love comes from God, but our notion of it was twisted. Stumbling blocks where put in our way and other emotions masqueraded as love. We have diluted the nature of love into desire — a selfish act. We want. We lust. We say, “I love cake,” when what we really mean is “I like cake, or I want cake.” Because, if we truly loved that cake, we would not end its existence by eating it. Love is not a selfish act but a selfless act.
True love is self-sacrifice for the benefit of another. That is why so many relationships and marriages end. We say we love someone, but in reality, we desire them. We want them for our pleasure, to make us feel better about ourselves. It is not wrong to desire someone, desire is indeed a part of love, but it is only a part of it. Love cannot be based on desire. We go into a relationship with certain expectations and things we want to get out of it and many times don’t even realize it. Then when we don’t get what we want out of a relationship or the desire fades, the “love” disappears. Men are called to love their wives as Christ loves the church, the bride of Christ. Men, Christ died for His wife even though she despised and denied Him. “For while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” True love is not conditional on the other person’s attitude towards us. “Love your enemies.”
That is why love is something that is not always easy but is something that must be worked at. It is not easy to love someone who hates us. Love takes effort. Love takes devotion. Christ gave His all on the cross and we saw the pain that He endured as He prayed to His Father shortly before His hour. But He endured, He persevered, He loved. Christ was able to accomplish the most loving task while receiving the vilest hatred, because Christ is God, and “God is love.” Yet Christ was also able to do this while being fully human, and that is why He can command us to love in the same way.
Another misconception of what it means to love is to feel affection for. We say we love someone when in reality we like their company or enjoy being around them. Not that affection is not rooted in love, but again, affection in and of itself is a far cry from true love, because affection can also become a selfish act. We like being around someone because they make us feel good. Affection is not a bad thing, but like everything else, it has become corrupted much in the same way as love. That is why you should not expect to draw love from affection but affection from love. As Paul said, “And now abide faith, hope, and love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” because love is the source of everything as believers. All we do, all we hope, all we believe is simply an overflow of the love the comes from God which can never run out because “God is love.” That is why it is so important that above everything else, we love God first. “Love the Lord your God will all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.” It is only by first loving God that we are able to truly love anything or anyone else without our love running out.
How are you showing love? True love has a price, and only by His grace, can we put it into practice to His glory.