Right now, what our country and our world desperately needs is a lesson on love. Normally I’d take the chaotic political and social climate in our country right now and write on the trending topics while vehemently voicing my opinions on the issues, but instead I want to simply ask some questions and give some analogies that can hopefully help some people gain a better perspective. Let’s start with the simple question: “What does love really look like?”
The reason this question really needs to be pondered at this moment in time is our country is more divided than ever over many major issues. On both sides are individuals claiming to hold the most loving and compassionate viewpoint. Sadly, we live in a culture where an ever-growing population desperately needs a lesson on the objective truth of morality. Many view truth as subjective, meaning “based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes, or opinions,” or even relative, in that we can all “find our own truths.” However these misconceptions are logical impossibilities.
If I say an apple is red and you say it is blue, obviously one of us is right, and the other is therefore wrong. The person calling the apple blue could be color-blind and legitimately see the apple as blue, however that is only because of the presence of disease or an inherited fault in their eyes. The problem with their eyes doesn’t change the reality of the apple’s true color, and likewise the problems of spiritual, mental and emotional health and discernment do not change the true reality of any moral issues. Truth, morality and true love in all its forms are objective in nature. Objective meaning they are “not dependent on the mind for existence,” they are factual, real, empirical, evidence-based or verifiable.
While we use the same word love to define various relationships and feelings for others, ancient Greek has four different words all translated into modern English as love:
STORGE: kinship or familiarity.
PHILIA: friendship and/or platonic desire.
EROS: sexual and/or romantic desire.
AGAPE: self-emptying or divine love.
Now excuse me while I pontificate for a moment, but I firmly believe that the main reason for so much of the current unrest and division in our country is that a frighteningly large number of people have absolutely no idea what true love is! Many people mistakenly put their “storge” and “philia” love in the place of “agape” love mainly because without Jesus Christ we cannot even know what agape love really is or looks like!
People are so caught up in their beliefs, values, interests and commonalities with others, they fail to even consider that both they and the person or persons they relate to are wrong! The worst part is that for most of the population, the only real love they have is for themselves, and truthfully the only reason they are defending the causes they claim to hold dear is they are so utterly self-absorbed they look outward to others for social-proof and validation of their own sinful thoughts, behaviors and lifestyles.
One definition of agape love is “the highest form of love, charity; the love of God for man and of man for God.” As we defined it above, agape love is “self-emptying.” Consider the way the Apostle Paul defined love to the church at Corinth:
“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Now here’s a doozy of a question for you: In light of these words defining love, how do the actions of the people hold up who have recently been: A) Protesting our new president, B) Marching for women’s “rights,” C) Protesting our new president’s executive orders?
I mean seriously, how dramatically different were the actions of the participants in the Women’s March and the March for Life?
What does love really look like?
- As a parent it can sometimes look like telling your child no, when the something they really want isn’t what’s best for them.
- It can also look like yelling or screaming at a child to warn them of imminent danger.
- It can involve having an intervention when a loved one is wrapped up in a self-destructive behavior like drugs or alcohol.
- It looks like sometimes refusing to help someone in need when it enables them to continue on a dangerous path.
- It could look like turning someone over to the authorities who needs a rude awakening, or reality check.
- It might look like forcing someone to get professional help, or unwanted medical care.
Sometimes love doesn’t look the way we’d like, sometimes it hurts our feelings, often it crushes our pride and exposes our egos. Tough love is real, it is necessary and it is very hard to be on the receiving end of at times. Often it takes time to allow emotions to die down, and time to mature, to realize the error of our ways. Personally, since I’m not far removed from my secular life of spiritual oblivion, I can easily relate to the truth of this quote as one who loved being mounted on my high horse.
“It is usually futile to try to talk facts and analysis to people who are enjoying a sense of moral superiority in their ignorance.” – Thomas Sowell
In the tumultuous times we live, we as the body of Christ desperately need to remember what it was like living with blinders on, without spiritual discernment (1 Corinthians 2:14), and use this understanding to love one another as Christ loves us! (John 13:34) Believers or not, we ALL must make sure pride isn’t digging it’s nasty claws into us in the form of moral superiority, whether founded on ignorance or objective truth. We know God through love, and we can only know love through God. (1 John 4:7-19)
“Love is a commitment that will be tested in the most vulnerable areas of spirituality, a commitment that will force you to make some very difficult choices. It is a commitment that demands that you deal with your lust, your greed, your pride, your power, your desire to control, your temper, your patience, and every area of temptation that the Bible clearly talks about. It demands the quality of commitment that Jesus demonstrates in His relationship to us.” – Ravi Zacharias
How has love been demonstrated in your life that wasn’t well received at first? In the heated cultural landscape we find ourselves in today, how can we make sure we are loving with the agape love of Christ?