Friday, February 3, 2012

What is love?

What is love?  And more importantly, is it a valid question in this day and age?

Back in the '80's, Howard Jones released a song called "What is love?"

He sang
'I love you whether or not you love me
I love you even when you think that I don't
Sometimes I find you doubt my love for you but I don't mind.
Why should I mind?
Why should I mind?'

According to love is both a noun (a thing) and a verb (an action)

1.a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.
2.a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend.
3.sexual passion or desire.
4.a person toward whom love is felt; beloved person; sweetheart.

5. to have love or affection for.
6. to have a profoundly tender, passionate affection for (another person).
7. to have a strong liking for; take great pleasure in.
8. to need or require; benefit greatly from.
9. to embrace and kiss (someone)
"The one thing everybody's looking for is unconditional love.  We all need somebody to love us just the way we are."  Joyce Meyer
Unconditional love. Does it exist?  I guess the closest we come to it is when we are parents.  We love our children, whether or not  they clean up their rooms; whether they get an 'A' or an 'F' on their maths tests; whether or not they obey us and whether or not they love us back.  Sometimes its painful to look at what your kids are doing but it doesn't make you love them any the less.

But that is our kids...what about other people in our family?  Or people we work?  Or even God when it comes down to it.  Everyone knows the saying "God is love" but is that love all encompassing or does it mean that we are in Gods bad books automatically and we have to strive to be mini versions of The Pope or Mother Theresa to get anywhere close to His good books?

We humans like to qualify or disqualify ourselves and others when it comes to believing and accepting God's love.  To think that sometimes God is happy with me and at other times he is angry at me is nothing short of schizophrenic Christianity.  Yet its almost impossible to believe that God could have as strong like for take great pleasure in me. 

Maybe society has taught us that if God really exists, He couldn't possibly be interested in each persons life.  If He is real, then he must be watching us from so far away that we are nothing more than a blur to Him. 

Years ago, Bette Midler had a huge hit with a song called 'From a Distance'.  This is the chorus:
God is watching us
God is watching us
God is watching us
From a distance

If this is true, then how can God take any sort of pleasure in me if he is watching me from 'a distance'?  To say He is watching us from a great distance, makes it sound like God is watching from the nose bleed section of the know, the cheapest seats available.

If God is real then why did He go to all the trouble to get our attention?   For instance, I'm not interested in football so I wouldn't voluntarily go to a game.  I might look at a couple of minutes of it on the news if the local team does good but that is about it.  I wouldn't put myself out to try to find any more about it because I can think of more worthwhile things I'd rather do with my time.

And if God is real and as close as to have a deep affection for me, then what happens when I make a mistake...when I stuff up?  Will He stop loving me then?  Will I be in the naughty corner or sent to my room...out of sight, out of mind?  Will I have to cry and beg for His attention again?
"This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn't go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again."     John 3:16,17 (The Message)
According to that verse in John,  the God of the Bible wants to put things right, to help out, to have a whole and lasting life.  He wants to be on our side and all we have to do is let him be on our side.  Can it really be that simple?  Just to believe in Him?   
It's impossible to please God apart from faith. And why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that he exists and that he cares enough to respond to those who seek him.  Hebrews 11:6  (The Message)
Okay then, if I believe God exists then what do I have to do? Do I have to learn Latin or Greek or learn special prayers and stop doing fun things? If God is God, and he is as all powerful and all knowing as the Bible says, then surely He knows what we are like and yet He still accepts us anyway.  None of us are perfect.  If we were, then we wouldn't need God, because we would be god.

Someone once said God isn't interested in behaviour modification, He's interested in life transformation!

Its easy to look at ourselves and compare ourselves with someone like Mother Theresa and feel that we are too 'sinful' for God to even want to have anything to do with us.  But the opposite is true.  It is because none of us are perfect, God wants to be part of our lives, to help us along.  If we were perfect, we would be gods ourselves and have no need of help from be cared for by be loved by anyone.

Have you ever tried to tell your child how much you love them?  Its not easy.  You can do so many things to show your love to your child but sometimes words and a simple demonstration go well together.  So we stand up, stretch our arms as wide as they can go and say "I love you this much!" before reaching down and hugging them.
"Beloved, when you look at your life and find yourself wondering if God really loves you, look to the cross and see God’s outstretched arms. It will remind and reassure you of how much He loves you!"  Joseph Prince

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