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What is love? And who gets to decide that anyway?


It has often been said that “God is love” but do we even understand what that means?


If we profess to be Christian then we are claiming that we take the opinion of God, the same views that Jesus taught and lived, as ultimate truth. This means that even if God’s opinion is different than popular culture, it trumps. And even if God’s opinion is different than our own perception of something, we trust His Word and ask for understanding. Given this explanation of Christianity, you can see how counter cultural the Christian faith is. Nonetheless, when it comes to defining love, we turn to our God and ask Him for truth even if that truth clashes with what our culture has taught us.


In a culture that promotes the idea of no absolute truth (living life directed by feelings) love becomes a mere emotion –free to be defined by each person as they choose. It is often confused with lust. And if it represents any sense of self sacrifice, it is generally offered to only the most deserving people in our lives.


However when we take a look at God’s Word and think about the example He has set before us, we begin to see a completely different picture of love, and that truth can change the course of our lives.


If I am honest, I can recall times when I have experienced “true” love in my life but they have not always been easy experiences. Some of those moments have become the sweetest memories but other moments have taken everything in me to stay on course. Loving someone purposely the way God does is not always easy to do. Actually, it can be the toughest thing ever. But I assure you, this is what love is really made of. This is the amazing love God has always offered us.


Sometimes when Aaron tells me he loves me, my heart reacts with a sense of knowing. This is not always the case. Being a woman I am well acquainted with feelings of doubt and inadequacy in the area of accepting love. And yet sometimes when I hear those words from him, they sound pleasantly redundant because they are met with such a profound “knowing” in me. Why is that? I have found my heart to react that way every time he says it while doing something completely selfless for me. I believe my heart is so easily convinced in those moments because that is what God’s love looks like. It is selfless –always. And it is never held ransom by his emotions.


I remember one time going through a very testing season of love. With a bruised heart I asked God “Why does it have to be so difficult?” His response was instant.  “Because love is long suffering.”  I can assure you those are not words I wanted to hear in that moment. But they are truth. And they are what I needed to hear in that moment.


1 Corinthians, chapter 13, contains a beautiful and profound description of love. It is often recited at weddings. It was meant as a description of the “God love” we need to have for others, both in and out of the church. Often it is read at weddings, used as good words to kick start a marriage. And why not? We love the part where it says that “Love is patient. Love is kind...” But how often do we meditate on some of the other parts, such as “Love is… long suffering”?


And yet that is exactly how the very God who came up with the idea of “love” defines it, at least in part. And that is exactly what He has demonstrated in His extravagant love for us.


Awhile back, I was at church singing during worship at a time when God had been showing me an area of sin in my life. He had allowed me to see an area of my heart I never even knew was in there and it scared me. Acutely aware of my own pitfalls I thought, “This doesn’t even make sense God. Why do you insist on working with us when we are so fragile? Yet you continue to magnify yourself through me… I don’t even get it. So now what? …I need you to do what only you can do God. Create in me a clean heart. Don’t stop till it’s done. ” 


The worship songs played on and eventually a familiar tune played. Although I enjoyed the tune, I don’t think I had ever really considered the words. This time as the words played, I could see a picture in my mind.


“All these pieces broken and scattered,


In mercy gathered mended and whole.


Empty handed but not forsaken, I’ve been set free.




Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.


I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now am free.




Oh I can see it now. Oh I can see the love in your eyes.


Laying yourself down, raising up the broken to life.




You take our failure. You take our weakness.


You set your treasure in jars of clay.


So take this heart Lord. I’ll be your vessel,


The world to see your love in me.”




Want to hear it?  www.youtube.com/watch?v=dxKLnySMbYM




The picture God showed me in my mind was Jesus laying his head down on the cross. They were done with the torture and were just finishing the spikes through his hands and feet so they could pull the cross vertical and drop it into the hole they had dug. As He laid back his head for the last time, He was completely surrendered.


His face was nearly unrecognizable. His eyes were swollen, bloodied and even filling with blood. None the less, it was Him. It was His beautiful, love filled eyes, peering at me through the crowd. His bruised and cut eyes were not focused on the hate coming from those surrounding Him. He was looking to the side, focused on me in the crowd. Despite the agony, He was at peace. His eyes seemed to say, “I would do it all over again. I love you.”


This is so beautiful to hear, and yet a tough reality to swallow, isn’t it?


The good news is that His goodness is not based on our perfection. Somehow He makes beauty from the broken. God will finish the good work He has started in us! When God looks at us, He sees that finished work, not the mess we have been.  Why? Because that was the deal made at the cross. A perfect Jesus Christ actually went through that for me. He took my place before I even knew I needed Him to.


The tough news is, THAT is what love really looks like.


Its mind boggling, isn’t it? We live in a society that uses the word “love” to describe anything that makes us feel good. And yet, Jesus demonstrated true love while being crucified on our behalf.


Can you see now why this can change the course of our lives? It changes how we live out marriage and every other relationship we have.


Love is not about returning the favor to someone who is good to us. It is not about embracing whatever feels good. Christ like love is selfless and endless no matter the day, no matter the person, and especially when they hate us in return.


So we practice until we are quick to apologize and quick to forgive. We ask God to show us each person as they were intended to be -a reflection of Him. And we keep that image in mind, even if they are spewing their venom.


It’s not easy, but it is simple.


It does not mean we are doormats, but we may feel like one while letting go of our hurt feelings.


It does not mean that we never stand firm or give correction. Real love would do both as necessary, but would only be motivated by HIS LOVE. Because real love is not even directed by what would make the recipient feel good temporarily, but by what is best for them in the end.


The word “love” gets tossed around carelessly, but the author of love never intended it that way. The last thing love will ever be is self-serving. No matter what our media may dictate, real love will never be a fickle emotional response.


It is so hard to comprehend the love He has given us; what love really is.


“Oh I can see it now. Oh I can see the love in your eyes.


Laying yourself down, raising up the broken to life.”




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Posted by: Anna Wozniak
Posted on: 1/12/2015 at 1:25 PM
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