Read 1 John 3:16-18
16 We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion-how can God’s love be in that person?
18 Dear children,let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. (NLT)
How often do we hear phrases such as ‘a love affair’,’a love child’,or ‘a love story’! More often than not,these are terms used to describe an extramarital relationship,or a child born out of such a relationship. It rather begs the question as to whether such a relationship is ever truly loving. It also illustrates how we have got muddled in our understanding of love.
We figure it is to do with getting pleasure from someone,following our hearts,giving in to our feelings. And of course love does include these things. But it is far more than that. The Bible tells us love is defined by who God is and what God does. And what he has done is to send Jesus to put things right between us and him.
As such it is the model of self-giving in order to bring benefit to another person,not at all focussed on what we may get from a relationship. As such it is the model for the love we are to practise: not just words but actions,not just pleasing ourselves but pleasing others.
In our society,love is so often characterised by a pink or red heart. For followers of Jesus it comes in the shape of a cross.