Let’s face it, we live in a love-saturated culture. Everywhere you turn you see television shows, movies, magazines, books, and other products all designed to get us to buy/watch/read by appealing to our desire to tap into love. It’s especially bad in our music. While I don’t have the exact number, the great majority of songs on the radio have to do with some aspect of love. Can you identify these famous love songs from their lyrics?
– Bittersweet memories that is all I’m taking with me. So good-bye, please don’t cry. We both know I’m not what you, you need….
Yup – you guessed it.
– There’s a calm surrender to the rush of day when the heat of the rolling world can be turned away, an enchanted moment and it sees me through. It’s enough for this restless warrior just to be with you…
Too easy, right?
One last one—and a personal favorite of mine!
– Shot through the heart and you’re to blame, darlin’…
Of course you know this one!
But when it comes to love, this world has the wrong perspective.
Most of the “love” in this world comes down to “what you do for me”—it’s about how you make me feel. Because of this erroneous view, the emotional connections we have make it too easy to move on. When I don’t feel love for you I’m gonna walk away.
But real love doesn’t move on in difficult moments—it holds on and fights for the “other.”
If the world’s perspective is wrong, let’s take a look at the Bible’s perspective. One of the most famous chapters in the Bible is 1 Corinthians 13. It’s often called “The Love Chapter.” In this section Paul goes on…and on…and on…and, well, you get it—all about LOVE.
Here’s the kicker: he uses verbs, not adjectives, to talk about love. Love is something to be DONE, not something to be felt. Here it is broken down with a bit of explanation about what Paul is trying to get at.
– Love is patient—it performs the positive act of waiting
– Love is kind—it responds to others with a tender heart
– Love does not envy—there are no intense negative feelings over another’s success
– Love is not boastful—not a pompous windbag
– Love is not conceited—not puffed up (puffing up the self puts others down)
– Love does not act improperly—refers to shameful behavior
– Love is not selfish—doesn’t seek personal advantage over the “other”
– Love is not provoked—doesn’t get caught up or riled up, not irritable
– Love does not keep a record of wrongs—don’t get historical!
– Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth—treat each other fairly
– Love bears all things—protects and covers up what is displeasing in others
– Love believes all things, hopes all things—trusting in God’s care and protection
– Love endures all things—love doesn’t bail out when times get tough
– Love never ends—despite trouble, hardship, or affliction, love perseveres
Jesus’ take on love is even more extreme. It’s not just about action—it’s about selfless action.
– John 15:13 – this is the greatest act of love, putting others ahead of yourself to the extreme.
– John 15:17 – Jesus’ direct command: love each other.
As we start the advent season we often focus on the wrong type of love. Love in Advent isn’t about feeling that it’s the most wonderful time of the year. It’s recognizing that God loves us through his actions. He cares, so he acts accordingly. Christ coming to the world is the greatest act of love because it is putting our needs as His priority.
The flip-side to this Christmas miracle is that we are commanded to pick up and carry this definition of love! We have the opportunity to create God’s kingdom on earth, and it all starts with love—how we treat and prioritize others.
Not to be trite and cliché, but what the world needs now is love.
Not a schmaltzy, Coca-Cola version, but a godly, biblical version of love as concrete behavior that puts others first and puts ourselves second.
Chris Linzey is husband to Tené, father to the three most beautiful children in the world, movie addict (seriously, if it’s on a screen he'll watch it—doesn’t matter how crummy or low-budget), and a Navy Chaplain, currently assigned to Naval Air Station, Meridian. Chris has a deep desire to help people live lives of faith where the Bible is more than mere words on a page, but the way we live everyday. His undergrad and Master’s studies were in Biblical Studies and he focused on the New Testament (his mentor was a Gospel of Mark scholar). He went on to get a Master of Divinity (MDiv) in Pastoral Preaching. Follow him at @chrislinzey.