It is estimated that 100 million songs have been written about love, and that love songs make up about 60% of all songs written. Here are few titles just off the top of my head.
- “All you need is love” (The Beatles)
- “What is love?” (Haddaway)
- “What does love got to do with it?” (Tina Turner)
- “Love is a battlefield” (Pat Benatar)
- “Love stinks” (J. Geils Band)
- “Tainted Love” (Soft Cell)
- “Love Shack” (The B-52’s)
- “You give love a bad name” (Bon Jovi)
- “Endless Love” (Diana Ross)
- “Let my love open the door” (Pete Townsend)
I guess it’s obvious which decade I represent with these titles. All but two of them are from the 1980’s.
Love is a central theme or soundtrack for our lives. I don’t think there is a better song that describes our pursuit of love than Johnny Lee’s “Lookin For Love”. Johnny who? I apologize in advance because I’m sure this song will be stuck in your head for the rest of the day.
I was lookin’ for love in all the wrong places
Lookin’ for love in too many faces
Searchin’ their eyes
Lookin’ for traces of what I’m dreaming of
Hoping to find a friend and a lover
I’ll bless the day I discover another heart
Lookin’ for love
Our need for love starts as soon as we enter the world and doesn’t end until we bid our final adieu, that’s farewell or goodbye in French, but you already knew that. Some pursue love more fervently than others, but the “love bug” at some point bites us all. Several weeks ago we talked about the different kinds of love mentioned in the Bible: eros (romantic), phileo (friendship), sorge (parental), and agape (unconditional, charity, highest form of love). While we’re “lookin for love” in all it’s forms and in all places, the primary form that makes the world go round is romantic love. I’m not trying to pick on romantic love, but as we know it’s not always reliable or sustainable. Romantic love is an emotional roller coaster that is both fun and nauseating. There are times when I look back on my teenage years and think, “wouldn’t it be great to feel like that again” and then a few seconds later I’m like, “uh, no thanks, been there done that, got the t-shirt”.
While eros (romantic), phileo (friendship), and sorge (parental) love can bring a certain level of satisfaction or joy, they are always unstable or in flux. They never quite deliver the peace, contentment, or fulfillment that we’re looking for because as Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock sang in 1988 “It takes two to make a thing right”. No matter how hard we try relationships get complicated, stressed, and tense. It doesn’t mean that we stop trying, as some do, but relationships are hard work and require a lot of maintenance.
Ok, I’m no love doctor and have no desire to be, so I’m not giving relationship advice, but If we want love to last, it has to grow, mature, and move to another level, a level that is not ruled by storms of emotion. If love is not what we were hoping for, then maybe we are looking in the wrong place, and that’s where God comes in. Before, you think I’m just going to throw a bunch of religious platitudes around about God’s love being easy, think again. It’s actually the hardest form of love to practice. Jennifer Lopez may sing that “Love don’t cost a thing”, but it can cost a lot. Let’s take a look at agape love again.
Agape could be defined as charity. However, we often think of charity nowadays as giving away money or things, which doesn’t encompass all of what agape is about. Agape love is unconcerned with the self and concerned with the greatest good of another. Agape isn’t born just out of emotions, feelings, familiarity, or attraction, but from the will and as a choice. Agape requires faithfulness, commitment, and sacrifice without expecting anything in return. (from christianity.com
The kicker in this definition from Christianity.com is “sacrifice without expecting anything in return”. All other forms of love and relationships have some kind of expectation or return on investment. Of course not everyone is that superficial and self-centered, but like Janet Jackson sang in 1986 “What have you done for me lately?” I know love is not in the title, but it fits.
Let’s face it. We all have expectations. We all want something from love, but the kind of love that will actual change the world doesn’t expect payback. God is the true doctor and creator of love, and He has given us everything we need to make it happen. We have the power and ability built into our DNA to practice agape love, plus God gave us an instructional manual (the Bible), and sent His son Jesus to demonstrate or show us how to do it. So what does it look like? Here are a few verses to get us started:
8But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 NIV
“4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NIV
“22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” Galatians 5:22-26 NIV
“16This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” 1 John 3:16 NIV
This is how much God loves us. He’s all in. He doesn’t just tell us. He shows us. He demonstrates His love in so many ways, but He also wants us to share it with others. He wants us to be His “ambassadors of love”. Does that sound like a song title? Eh, maybe not.
Unfortunately I ran out of room for one last thing that I wanted to share with you about what agape or God’s love looks like, so we’ll look at that next week. For a preview, read Matthew 5:43-48.
Love y’all! Have a great weekend!
Weekly Devotional by Robby Morris, Director of Family Ministry & Facility Coordinator @ Andrews UMC.