Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart in their hit single, ‘Love is a Stranger’ describe love in this way,
“It’s savage and it’s cruel and it shines like destruction,
Comes in like a flood and it seems like religion,
It’s noble and it’s brutal, it distorts and deranges,
And it drenches you up and you’re left like a Zombie”
Alannah Myles sings in her song, “Love is”,
“Love is what you want it to be”
No wonder people are deeply confused about the nature of love. It is a word that we use to describe our feelings towards our mother, our spouse, our children and even icecream and chocolate. Along with the many uses of this one word are the many ways it is described and understood in mainstream culture. I have often heard ‘love’ used as the only reason needed to determine whether it is ok to have sex with someone. On issues such as gay marriage, issues of gender, health concerns, sociological considerations and the like are simply swept away on the basis that love alone should determine what makes a marriage.
As believers in Jesus we can’t but help be impacted by the world in which we live. 1 John 4:8 tells us quite unequivocally that the God we claim to believe in is “love”. On this basis alone, we as Christians are called to love one another and to even love those who hate us. But, what on earth is ‘love’? Is love simply the pleasant feelings I have towards someone I like? Is love the erotic urges I feel at the sight of my naked wife? Is love a stranger in an open car that will tempt me in and drive me far away?
Thankfully, the Bible doesn’t leave us with these questions unanswered. Not only are we told that God is love, but also we discover throughout the Bible and quite explicitly in 1 Corinthians 13, how the Bible understands love. In other words, love is not simply whatever we want it to be. Ultimately love has been expressed more powerfully in the self-giving sacrifice of Jesus. Jesus tells us, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Or as John writes, “God loved the world so much that he gave his only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” Paul concludes, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”