BlogsThoughts and insights from Jubilee Church Wirral
What is Love?
By Gerry Mellors, Jubilee Church Wirral
The dictionary definition (Dictionary.com) of love is ‘a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person’.
Many people have tried to give their own answer to this question. In songs and movies the answer will often be a feeling related to romantic love with one of the best selling songs about it, ‘Love is all around’ by Wet Wet Wet saying: ‘I feel it in my fingers, I feel it in my toes, love that’s all around me, and so the feeling grows’.
My parents had some cartoons from the 70’s which all started ‘Love is…..’ with a whole range of funny and sweet answers – although some feel slightly dated now. Some related to this feeling of affection, but others go some way to better answering the question as they were in part about putting love into action:
Love Is.. cartoons by New Zealand cartoonist Kim Casali in the 1960s
I remember hearing a sermon as a teenager in which it was said love is an action, not a feeling.
I’d never really thought about that before, it was a genuine revelation to me, I was still very caught up in the idea of romance.
I was so familiar with the songs and films that spoke of love only as an emotion.
But as it was explained I realised how true it was. Yes God loves us with strong affection and feels very lovingly towards us, but His love is so much more than that. It’s sending His Son to die in our place – and in seeing His Son die, God can’t have felt only feelings of affection for us, He also felt feelings of pain….watching his son die was the ultimate act of love.
The Urban Dictionary (urbandictionary.com – definitions created by its users) has definitions for love including ‘the act of caring and giving for someone else’ and ‘a choice of devotion’ which seem much more realistic meanings.
Jesus himself gives us a very clear answer about what love is in John 15:13:
‘Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.’
To give your life for another is the ultimate act of love, the very thing that Jesus would go on to do. Hearing this scripture always reminds me of Remembrance Day and the soldiers who gave their lives in war and the words ‘They died that we might live’ – the very thing Jesus did for us.
I’ve been reading a book called ‘The Road Less Travelled’, which isn’t overtly a Christian book, but it is full of wisdom.
The writer, Scott Peck, states: ‘Real love often occurs in a context in which the feeling of love is lacking, when we act lovingly despite the fact we don’t feel lovingly.’
He goes on to talk about how in marriage, often real love starts when the ‘honeymoon’ feeling ends, and people don’t feel like they’re ‘in love’ anymore, as the experience of falling in love is invariably temporary.
Not that we necessarily stop loving the person, but the feeling of ecstatic lovingness that characterises the experience of falling in love always passes.
Peck also says: ‘I conclude that the desire to love is not itself love. Love is as love does. Love is an act of will – namely both an intention and an action. Will also implies choice. We do not have to love. We choose to love.’
In the media people may make judgements about how much couples love each other based on grand gestures – purchases of expensive items etc, and they can be applauded for such things.
I suspect real love very often goes unnoticed as it isn’t so glamorous – but there’ll be people we know, members of our church who are faithfully demonstrating this self-sacrificing love, not maybe giving their life physically like a soldier, but giving up the life they might desire to love someone who has need of their love.
One example is the person who cares daily for their spouse who is struggling with physical ill health or dementia, who stays at home, missing out on their usual activities – seeing friends, eating out, even attending church – for the sake of their partner. Sacrificing all their desires to meet their partner’s needs. For them there is often no ‘me time’ – and they don’t complain about it, they just get on with it because that’s what real love is.
Really loving someone can sometimes be a very hard choice to make and to keep making, but this is the kind of love we as Christians are called to. And when we do, we are being like Jesus as ‘God is love’:
‘God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him’ (1 John 4:16).
Gerry Mellors of Jubilee Church Wirral with her husband Arlo
In the month of remembrance, Chris on remembering what Jesus sacrificed for us and how we need to act on it.
Helen on the importance of Friends and what God has to say about them in the Bible.
Andrew on evangelism, how we are all evangelists whether we like it or not, and how to evangelise easily.
Dawne on the parable of the lost sheep and the lessons we can take from it as followers of Jesus and members of His flock.
Yvonne on loss and how God has helped her deal with the loss of her mum and the impending departure of her eldest son to his first job
Nicki on serving at Newday and the impact it has had on all three Frodsham children and many, many others
Simon on the frustrations of not being able to get to sleep properly, and the Bible verses that help him stand firm against sleeplessness.
Gerry on how easy it is to be drawn into gossip. “If you can’t say anything positive, don’t say anything at all” isn’t just good advice, it’s Biblical wisdom.
Sylvia on being an encourager: “God knows our troubles. When we open up to Him, He’ll use other people to encourage us through His word.”
Lynne on doing what God wants us to do even when we really don’t want to do it – and why it’s important
Chris on the power of our words and how having a relationship with Jesus can give us the power of the right word at the right time.
Helen on why Psalms have taken the place of Proverbs as her favourite book of the Bible
Andrew Greenhalgh on being much better at giving advice than at taking it – and what happens as a result.
Chantal Robertson on how God and the gospel of Christ has never changed over time – even though the way we package it has.
Nicki on how she was planning to work in the marketing and advertising industry until God led her in a different direction.
Dawne challenges us to look at life with the enthusiasm, joy and exuberance of her Macedonian dog Floki and find joy in the everyday.
Jen on how taking the Alpha Course because she had nothing better to do on a Tuesday afternoon led to a life-changing wheelchair for her daughter Daisy and many others.
Matt Wilson on how God is weaving a tapestry – and knows what that looks like. He can see the big picture. Our part is to trust him with the threads he has given us.
Denise Griffiths on resolutions and why she has resolved not to make the usual New Year’s resolutions such as giving up chocolate, eating healthier or doing more exercise!
Vernon on the transience of life, and how, through all suffering, God’s steadfast love has the capacity to satisfy us every morning.
Andrew Greenhalgh on how he ended up going to church on Christmas morning for the first time at the age of 11 – and what it has taught him.
Helen on how preparations for Christmas vary from family to family and country to country. And what happened to Helen’s Lindt advent chocolates?
Nicki and Dave on how walking the streets and praying for our neighbours can lead to some unexpected opportunities to spread God’s word.