January 30, 2017
The word LOVE gets tossed around very casually in our culture. In movies, television and in pop music, love is referenced all the time. Daytime soap operas are marketed as “Love in the afternoon.” So called reality TV shows promise us: love and romance blossom before our very eyes. Pop music has informed us about love for decades, with such timeless counsel as, “If you can’t find the one you love, love the one you’re with.” The sentiment of love expressed in the lyrics of many songs today is so vulgar, I can’t actually put them into print in this space.
Our world embraces the idea of love. Its affinity for love and its understanding of love’s importance are expressed in such classic lines as, “All we need is Love” and “Love makes the world go around.” Yes, the idea of love is a popular thing and it provides the theme for millions of books, movies and songs. The problem is that although our world embraces the idea of love, we often reject the responsibility and labour of love.
Our fundamental problem with love, is that we use it as a noun, more than we do as a verb. I realize it is both, however, when we speak of love, it is usually as a noun, void of the action love as a verb demands. When our world references love, it speaks of a feeling of affection, romance, tenderness, passion and zeal. It is focused on the euphoria, the moment, the state of love. But Jesus’ call to love was a call to action. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart with all your soul and with all your mind and love your neighbour as yourself.” After hearing Jesus’ command of love, the Pharisees ask, “Who is my neighbour which I am to love in such a manner?” Jesus illustrated such love by sharing the story of the Good Samaritan. You remember the story. A Jewish man walking the dangerous section of road between Jerusalem and Jericho, fell into the hands of thieves. They beat him and stripped him of his clothes, and left him for dead. A Priest and a Levite both noticed the man lying helpless in the ditch and passed by on the other side of the road, but a Samaritan saw the man in need and took pity on him. He bandaged his wounds, placed him on his donkey, took him to an Inn, and paid for his care.
True love, REAL LOVE is action. It is taking responsibility; it is keeping our covenants and doing what is required. The kind of love that keeps a marriage and a home together isn’t the romantic euphoria we experience as we pursued the woman or man of our dreams, it is the daily responsibility to put the needs of the other person before your own. It is sacrificing your wants, for their needs. It is “Going first, not being first.”
This is the Love upon which Christian marriage is built. It is the love that reflects the love of Christ for His church. It is REAL LOVE.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German Theologian who sacrificed his life in a Nazi concentration camp by taking the place of another prisoner in the gas chambers, only days before liberation by the Allies, wrote in the sermon for the wedding of his best friend and his sister, “Today you make covenant because you love, but for the rest of your lives, you must love because you made covenant.”
That is REAL LOVE.