Love. This word captivates every single individual on this planet. It seems that every single person has some form of understanding of what love is. Whether we may share that belief or not, most people will believe that love for someone or something is the most important thing a human could do. Oxford defined love as a “deep affection”. Both the Church and the world will say love is very much important. However, what’s the source of love?
One. We’ve all heard the expression: I think she’s the one. When you find someone you believe you are in love with, you refer to that person as The One. The One is an undefined person, but this culture believes that when you find them, you will know. People spend their whole lives chasing after someone to love. Even Dean Martin wrote a song called You’re Nobody ‘Till Somebody Loves You, and in it he sings, “Find yourself somebody to love.” However, how do we define ‘The One’?
Another. I still remember getting taught mixed values as a kid. When I was a child, I was taught that sharing, honesty, and respect were something that every human deserved. We were taught to live with one another in harmony and unity. After all, we live in the United States of America. When Jesus said that we were to love our neighbor, immediately afterwards a person inquired our Lord as to who is considered our neighbor. However, who does the Bible say to love besides our neighbors?
Love one another. This phrase was uttered by our Lord, at His final supper. This phrase is found in John 13:34 (ESV) saying, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” Jesus said it twice. Why? It is pretty clear to me that the reason why He did this is because His definition of love was different from the one of the world. After He said to love one another, Christ could’ve moved on. He could’ve assumed that the disciples understood what He meant, and the disciples would’ve probably understood it as the world understands it.
However, Jesus said, “As I have loved you…” Jesus’ love was a unique, divine love. Some people say things like, “I could never be like Jesus.” Well here Jesus says that in order to love one another, we must love according to His way. The world says that we must love, but the world’s love is nowhere near the kind that Christ has. In fact, worldly love is selfish, impatient, and painful. It is why so many people are driven mad by being unable to find true love in worldly techniques.
Notice what Jesus says in John 13:35 (ESV): “By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” Earlier I stated how it is unknown to the world where love comes from. It’s transcendent, and I believe it is that way because it is supposed to give us a glimpse of who God is. I can also say that because, with all confidence, I can say what the source of love is: God. God is love! Outside of Him, love can’t be found. No love will satisfy, no love will be true, and no love will fulfill you unless it is God’s love. In fact, no humanly love will be successful unless with the intention of glorifying God; that’s how complex love is!
I also mentioned that people struggle with defining ‘The One’. Now, I do believe, as a Calvinist, that God determines people’s destiny. I do believe God has a hand in people’s romantic life, and so indeed I hold to a belief that God does lead us to find the right person for our life when we submit to His will and rule. However, when the Bible talks about ‘The One’… that is not what it is talking about. I fully believe that relationships are a wonderful thing that God blesses us with to point us to His glorious relationship with the Church… but that’s just it: The Church.
Who is The One? Who is that ‘One’ that Christ tells us to love? Is it the world? Is it all people? Is it the significant other we’ve been praying, waiting, and (some guys) obsessing over? No! It’s the wonderful, beautiful, incomparable, astounding, gracious, perfected, beloved, and glorious Church that Jesus Christ had fallen in love with before the foundations of the world. His love for His Church becomes one with us when become Christians. Christian men and women, single and married, sometimes become so obsessed with their idea of love that they miss this theological, lovely attraction of Christ and His Church. Our goal is to serve our Church.
Finally, the thing I addressed earlier was the word another. What I have noticed in some local churches is that there are groups and factions within the churches. People tend to ignore other people, pastors will refuse to shake certain peoples’ hands, and some people’s needs are even left ignored. This is startling and very sad. When Christ said to love, He said that we must have His sacrificial, affectionate, and selfless attitude towards one another. He wants us to help, care, and feed His Bride. But with that, we must understand that means that we must love one another.
Now, this does not mean to play nice while Jesus is looking, and then going back to pushing or ignoring Deacon Johnny when Jesus turns around. Sometimes, we Christians act like children without any regard to how Christ feels when we fail to help one another as a Church. We forget to pray for each, to sympathize for one another, and to care for one another in deeds and affection. Sometimes I wonder: is Christ pleased with what I do for His Bride? Is He disappointed with the little I’m doing? Will He return and think of me as a loving steward for the Gospel and His Church? Will He think I cheated Him in some way?
I can’t answer this question for everyone. I can’t change how the world thinks about love, for only God is able to radically transform a person’s stoney heart and turn it into flesh. I can’t convince people of what the biblical definition of love is. I can’t convince people, even within the Church, what is worth chasing after with all we have. Even with all my writing, preaching, music, and abilities… I can’t love people without God’s outpouring of His undeserving love, grace, and mercy on my life.
All I can do is simply see His Bride, and marvel at her beauty and magnificence. All I can do is pray for my brothers and sisters in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, South America, etc., that God would help them through their persecution and trials. All I can is pray that my local church’s pastor will be strengthened by the Holy Spirit, for he is faced with a high task of shepherding Christ’s flock. All I can do is greet the nervous millennial, the rigid married couples, and the sweet old lady in my local church, and have conversations with them. All I can do is offer the best I have, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to aid people in biblical understanding, discipleship, and missions.
Christ wants me to do these things, not because I am able, but because I am unable. He shows me everyday what it means to “love one another“. It’s not because I get something for myself, it’s not to get people’s affections back from it, and it’s not merely because I have a ‘social belonging’. It is all because I live to please and glorify my Lord, who has given me more than I deserve. All He asks: for me to love Him and for me to care for His Bride.
Lord… with pleasure.
Soli Deo Gloria.