A few weeks ago, I was posed this in an email “I wanted to start a conversation with you about Love. What is it?
I want to start this conversation about what Love is because your ministry boasts to be about it. This may sound sarcastic but please don’t take it that way. I’m actually really serious about trying to grasp what your take is on Love. Please take some time and help me understand.”
What a fantastic inquiry… I wish more people would be bold about challenging the “thing” that we choose to advocate. Now, I am going to give my definition of love from a biblical view, an experiential view and lastly what I would consider an overall world view. I will not necessarily be defining which of my views I am drawing from at any specific moment because although I believe there is a foundational truth of what love is that can only be seen through the lens of the creator, on some level they all have to coexist in order for love to be fully understood.
There are many different words and expressions for love. Some are justified and some are not. I have a much larger respect for cultures that have numerous words for the different types of loves that can be expressed as to where the English language only has one, Love. We love our food. We love our pets. We love our spouse. We love our children. We love our extended family. We love our friends. We love music. We love our cars. We love our houses. We love our clothes. We love our jewelry. We love television. We love movies. We love beverages. We love sports. We love Jesus. We love equality. We love charity. We love strangers. I think you get the point. There is no separation between the word we use to describe the feeling towards our best friends and our favorite food. So what is love, really? Is it an emotion, that can only be expressed toward another human? Is it an explanation of our like and desire of something? Is it an appreciation that draws us to our favorite hobbies? Is love all of these things? According to us, as humans living in 21st century America, yes.
Unfortunately, the tone in which we use the word is the only defining moment of the declaration.
Let’s try something, break down the word into categories used, and define it in each category.
Food: to love our favorite food must mean that the specific dish or genre tickles our taste buds to the point of complete consumptive satisfaction. Is it possible to have more than one food that you love? Due to the definition, I would say yes. What that means is that there are foods that take your mouth from a container for teeth to a watering hole of delight and those foods can be different.
Spouse: to love our spouse [which I don’t have, so if I’m wrong, correct me] there is a special expression that we use. We add the word “in” before we use the word love. We are [or are supposed to be] IN Love with our spouse. I’m not entirely sure how this plays out, or what makes it different. I thought I had experienced this, and maybe I had, however, my definition for such an emotion is this: To feel and express such feeling for one person without condition and without the fulfillment of their “love” towards you. I would like to believe that such a term as “in love” would mean that there is nothing unworkable as a team, no matter the obstacle, no matter the sin. This is very easy for me to say because I am not in love with anyone. Just above these words I mentioned that “I thought I had experienced this, and maybe I had.” I’ll explain, a couple years ago I was in a relationship like I had never experienced, everything that makes a good relationship seamed to be there, however, there was a disconnecting factor. Is this factor enough to say that I wasn’t “in love” with this woman and rather be explained as the most loving relationship that I had experienced and because of that I felt the need to give that feeling a title. So there is the story, maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t, at any rate, someday I hope to enter into a relationship with a woman whom I can be in love with in the manner that I have layed out.
Friends: This might sound odd, but friends are like food and maybe anything else except the love of a spouse and the love for parents can fit into the food category of love. There are different experiences and attributes that bind our hearts to people, activities and things. I think because of the diversity we are able to experience we are able to love numerous things, and maybe I say that because “love” is the only word that comes to mind when wanting to express an overwhelming appreciation for, or desire of something/someone.
The general public: In order to truly love the average human I believe without a shadow of doubt that this has to be motivated by the creator of love, and come from the fruit of an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. The only man to every truly love, purely, without selfish motive or ambition is Jesus which I would argue has to make him our foundation for such a love. What does this look like? A willingness to invest in to the people who are around you. An investment is a risk, it is putting something in without the promise of getting anything in return. Some investments are very fruitful and some end in a complete loss of all that was waged.
When it comes to food, sports, or anything that would fit into the stuff category, love is an enjoyment of and appreciation for that/those thing[s].
When it comes to people, Love is a compromise. An endless battlefield of sacrifice, honesty, trust and looking towards the future as opposed to the past.
What is love? It’s your turn to answer the question… I am not an expert and that’s not hard to figure out.