By Paul Bawden
Is love sweet love ….. The words of this old hit tune came to mind as I observe all the tension, anger, hatred, accusations, and disagreement in Washington D.C. , in the news media, and in the United States. Then it’s Valentine’s Day on February 14 – the day designated to express love to one another in different ways, depending on one’s relationship.
It’s almost laughable, though, to even talk about love, for it seems far from many people’s minds. On the other hand, if we’re honest with ourselves, we do need to talk about love, for without love, our country, yes, our lives, can be on the way to self-destruct.
So what is love? Someone has said that love is seeking the highest good in the object loved. Love, then, is accepting, honoring, and respecting another person, giving that individual the value of who that person is regardless if one agrees or doesn’t agree with that person’s life-style, opinions, and ideas.
It’s easy to write those words, and to agree with them, but, as we all know, it’s not so easy to practice that kind of love. Love gets tainted with our egotism, our jealousy, our idolatry, our religiosity, our dislike of others and their ideas, our hatred, even lying and immorality, yes, our selfishness. Some, sad to say, have so much hatred for a person that they murder that individual.
Is there a solution to this dilemma in our lives where love is corrupted by the negatives, really calling an ace an ace and a spade a spade, the sin in our lives? Could it be that we need a different kind of love? Love that is not found in ourselves, but found outside of ourselves, yet can be for us in our personal lives. Is there such a love? For those who will take time to consider the following, there is.
It’s love not found in ourselves, but in the biblical God, who is love (I John 4:8). That tells us that love doesn’t define God, but that God defines love. Since God is eternal, His love is eternal (Ps. 90:1-2; Jer. 31:3). Since God is holy, His love is holy (Isa. 6:3; I John 1:5 – He is light – holy). God’s love is also unconditional, sacrificial, and He lays down His life for His people to pay for their sins committed against Him (I John 4:9-10). Such is all wrapped up in Jesus Christ, His Son, who won His forgiveness and eternal life through His death, burial and bodily resurrection for all who will believe in Him.
One can bypass such love, and even deny its existence, but for the believer in Christ, God’s love is a transforming love. The believer in Christ now has the love of God within his person (Rom. 5:5), really a new nature which also includes a new mind and will. Although there will be challenges to display God’s love, yet depending on the power of the Holy Spirit within, the believer can display God’s love to others – individually, in one’s family, at work, at school, in one’s neighborhood, to those one disagrees with, and to those regardless of a person’s skin color and background.
Indeed, God’s love is radical. Now the believer prays for his enemies, loves those who persecute him, and forgives those who offend him. He is not out for power, but seeks to act in humility as he follows Jesus Christ. The biblical writ puts it this way. God’s love is patient and kind; it does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong doing, but rejoices with the truth. God’s love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. God’s love never ends. Which of these qualities do you and I need to practice?
Only God’s kind of love experienced and at work in the lives of the politicians in Washington, the media, and in each of our lives, will the U.S. and any people, experience truth, righteousness, and justice in the society, so all can live together in peace and harmony.
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.
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