By Paul Bawden
A man and his friend were talking about marriage. The one fellow asked his friend what the success was in his many years of marriage to his wife. “Oh,” he replied. “That’s easy. She goes out to eat on Tuesday evenings, and I go out to eat on Thursday evenings.
Not exactly a way to enrich a married relationship.
But what is love as Valentine’s Day is celebrated in February? Is it a feeling? Is it doing what we want to fulfill our desires? Is it a commitment? Actually, there are different kinds of love. I’ll consider three of those here.
There is philanthropic love, a friendship, a general kindness for another person or help shown to a good cause.
There is eros or erotic love, which is a word used to express sexual love, or the feelings of arousal that are shared between people who are physically attracted to one another. Sad to say that erotic love has descended into almost any relationship one desires to have.
The interesting fact about each of these kinds of love, and other kinds of love that could be named, is that each one starts with man and ends with man, meaning such love is limited to time alone. In addition, each of these kinds of love is plagued with man’s selfishness, willfulness, and pride.
In the midst of man’s tainted love, is there a love that is eternal, pure, unconditional, sacrificial, forgiving, with a commitment that never goes back on its word? There is, and it’s called agape love. This is a love that is totally different from philanthropic and erotic love. It’s the word that is used when it says that the biblical God is love (I John 4:8). Since God is love, He defines love. Since the biblical God is eternal (Psalm 90:2), is holy – without sin – transcendent moral purity (Isaiah 6:3), and is totally dependable (Hebrews 6:17-18), His love is such as well.
God’s agape love is also unconditional, sacrificial and forgiving, which was demonstrated eternally in time, when He sent His one and only eternal Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to take upon Himself humanity to become the sin bearer for the sins of world. His death, burial, and bodily resurrection for our sin of breaking His law is the greatest action of agape love in the history of mankind.
Today, Christ’s love is still rejected and twisted, as it has been through history.
Regardless, have you experienced God’s eternal and pure love in your life? It is available to you through accepting Christ as your personal Savior (cf. John 1:12). For accepting Christ as your Savior, God’s love is poured into your life (Romans 5:5) through Christ’s spiritual nature which is given to you (II Peter 1:4).
Now by relying on Christ’s inner strength, you can love as Christ loves – unconditionally, with commitment, with forgiveness, with kindness, and acceptance of others (cf. I Corinthians 13:4-8a) This means that the follower of Christ realizes that premarital sexual relationships are wrong, that God has established marriage between a man and woman, and one’s identity is found in Christ, one’s Creator and Redeemer.
Christ’s love is radical! It exposes the false love of man which is corrupted by his immorality, idolatry, coveting, lust, jealousy and pride. At the same time, Christ, in His love, holds out His invitation to anyone to embrace His forgiving love through faith in Him, to love like Him here, with the hope of being in His presence after this life. That is love everlasting!!
Paul Bawden is married and served in the pastoral ministry for 45 years, retiring in 2011. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a B.A. in Speech and attended Dallas Theological Seminary, receiving a Master of Theology. He has taken counseling courses at Trinity Evangelical Seminary in Deerfield, Illinois. Paul is a lifetime member of the Evangelical Free Church of America, as well as being a member of Interim Pastor Ministries (IPM), which serves churches during their time of transition in searching for a new pastor. He writes for Union Gospel Press, as well as being a volunteer writer for GotQuestions.org. Paul likes to write, read, bike, and work in the yard. The Bawdens have had the privilege to travel to Mexico and Romania on mission trips and visited various countries in Europe.