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Take10: God’s Love and Ours

Hannah Cote, Staff Reporter

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“Love is life. All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love.” ~ Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace.

Even though Tolstoy’s view of Christianity wasn’t completely accurate, this statement is a truth that applies to every Christian. The most recent chapels have all been about the third of the five virtues in I Timothy 4:12 – love. But what exactly is love?

Love is commonly defined as “an intense feeling of deep affection,” but that is not at all what Scripture says. According to I John 4:10, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” But that can be put even more simply. 1 John 4:16 states, “God is love.” Not “God is loving” or “God is good at showing love.” He IS love.

Let’s stop there for a second. That may seem like a confusing definition because God is love, but that begs the question then, who is God? 1 Corinthians 13 is appropriately nicknamed “The Love Chapter.” It may seem familiar from elementary school – it’s the “love is patient, love is kind, love does not envy…” chapter. Sound familiar? If God is love and love is patient-kind-not envious-etc., then God is also these qualities.

Most of us probably think of boy/girl love when we hear the word, but that’s not the only kind of love we’re called to show. We’re called as believers to love those around us, whether they are believers or not. John 13:35 also states that, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” The world will recognize us as His disciples by how we love. That’s pretty serious right there. If we aren’t showing the love of God, there’s no way the world will know us as His disciples because He is love.

Love is a choice, not a feeling. “Love actually needs to start when those butterflies in your stomach go away or when you get in a fight with your best friend or family member,” Pastor Chris Hilken at North Coast Church said. As 1 John 4:7-8 says, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

Love isn’t optional. God commands it. Commands. And if we choose to ignore it, then we don’t know God. Christianity literally revolves around the concept of love: God’s love in sending Jesus, Jesus’ love is dying on the cross, our love for Him and others. Without it, we really can’t be Christians. And now that we understand that we have to love, let’s talk about how to love. Remember 1 Corinthians 13 from earlier? We love by being like God, and we reasoned that if God is all the qualities listed in the chapter, and He is also love, then we should also exhibit these qualities in our lives. We show love by patiently explaining an English concept to our younger sibling for the tenth time. We show love by humbly putting others’ needs before our own. We show love by being encouraging and showing no limits to our love.

Many of us probably take love for granted, or write it off as something saved for fairytales or romance novels. The word is so overused that it’s practically lost all sincerity in its meaning – nowadays, people “love” everything. The truth is, though, true love isn’t anything like that. True love is God. God is love. Without Him, there is no way that we humans can possibly understand love. Human love is conditional. His is not. The greatest love of all time was shown for you on a bloody, rugged cross because God wanted you to spend eternity with Him, even while we were yet slaves to sin (Romans 5:8). He really didn’t have to. But again, love is a choice. Love requires action, not pretty words. So love. Love God, love others, and love those who are lost, but do it with God’s perfect, unconditional love that will last for eternity.

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Take10: God’s Love and Ours