Love. What is love? As Christians, we struggle with this word. We watch as the mainstream presents love as a fairy tale with “happily ever afters” and “true love’s first kiss” and we fight it. We are scared to talk about love as anything other than an institution created by God for fear of setting our expectations too high and being let down.
We are surrounded by marriages that have failed, pregnant teens, and abused women, which leave us feeling hopeless. On appearance, it seems as if love just does not exist. It even feels as if it does not exist.
My personal experiences had taught me that love is conditional. We must meet certain requirements in order to have the love of another and if we do not meet those requirements, we are not worthy of love.
This is where I began to learn that I have had it all wrong. I really believed that true love was earned. I believed that romance was dead. That none of it existed. Then my world changed.
I have now come to believe that God created romance and true love. He designed it. Love exists because God exists. (But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 1 John 4:8) Romance exists because God created it. He created the sunrises and sunsets. He created the colorful fields of flowers and their sweet fragrances. God created the waves that crash upon the shore and the sound of birds singing overhead. God created the fire and sparkle of diamonds and gems. God gave us fire to sit before, basking in its warmth, and He gave us music that calms our hearts. In fact He serenades us. (For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs. Zephaniah 3:17). God created poetry. Some of the most beautifully written words can be found in the Bible, and are much better than any adult romance novel.
Kiss me and kiss me again,
for your love is sweeter than wine.
3 How fragrant your cologne;
your name is like its spreading fragrance.
No wonder all the young women love you!
4 Take me with you; come, let’s run!
The king has brought me into his bedroom.
- Song of Songs 1:2-4
Because God created us, He knows what stirs our hearts. He knows the things that “take our breath away” and He created every one of them. God created us with the desire to worship and He created us with the desire to love. We are drawn to that which is beautiful and because of this, there is a connection between beauty and love.
Love can best be seen as an action. (Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.1 John 3:16) It is devotion and not based on emotion or how we feel. Of course, emotions are involved, but they should not be the criteria for how we love. True devotion to another is what will always lead to true love.
To understand devotion we must know its meaning. The dictionary defines devotion as strong attachment (to) or affection (for a cause, person, etc.) marked by dedicated loyalty, profound dedication, earnest attachment to a cause or person. Devotion requires loyalty. It says that we will stand by someone through thick and thin because we are “attached” to them. From understanding devotion, the only other way to identify true love is by what we find in God’s word.
2 Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. 3 Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. Ephesians 4:2-3
Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Romans 2:10
When we match our relationships to what the Bible defines love as, then we can truly confess that “we love” and understand love.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Because we are human, the way we love not only comes from our ability to see the worth of another but also from the worth we feel in ourselves as well. Our ability to love is determined by our self-worth. Hmm, this could be a problem. If there is no source of worth outside of ourselves or greater than ourselves than how in the world can we love one another? The question then becomes how can we love if we ourselves have no self-worth?
I want to be pursued. I want to be desired. God understands those needs within me because He created me. He created me in His image, which means that He understands my needs because He too longs to be desired and pursued.
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13
“Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near.” Isaiah 55:6
“I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.” Psalm 119:10
This is the discovery I have made. I have experienced the greatest romance of my life and now better understand what true love looks like. After many years of feeling unloved and unworthy, I have now realized that my worth cannot come from others. My worth has to come from God and God alone. I have had to learn that people look at outward appearances while God sees the heart. “…The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 Now that I have finally accepted this, my self-worth has begun to change.
In life, we often find ourselves pursing the wrong objects, trying to satisfy those empty places within us. Whether it is material things or a person, those things will never fulfill those places that long to be loved and pursued. That special place can only be filled by a love relationship with Christ. Now that I understand this, I see the romance around me. God knows what stirs me. He knows what makes me feel loved. When the sun sets at night, it sets for me. God knows the stirring I feel inside when I smell the sweet scent of jasmine and He places them around me. He brings me flowers daily. When I need a love song, His word, through music, will play through my radio.
True love does exist. Romance does exist. Once we find our worth in Christ and understand His love for us, we in turn are able to love those around us and experience true love.