“This is how we have come to know love: He laid down his life for us.” 1 John 3:16
The topic has been dissected, analyzed, misunderstood and completely misrepresented. In the world’s eyes it can be reduced to nothing more than a human emotion or a powerful feeling that you have no control over. What a tragedy it is when love is allowed to be defined by mere human tendencies!
“One of the most popular topics covered not only in books, but in movies and music as well, love is a universal, multi-faceted theme that’s been explored in a number of ways throughout the history of literature.” [writersedit.com]
Can you even imagine the number of books and songs that have been written about love? From novels trying to depict what love looks like to self-help books proclaiming to be experts on the subject. Songs of love and of love lost. Movies with actors trying to pretend that they know what “real love” looks like.
Webster’s Dictionary claims to carry the “full definition of love”, yet fails to recognize the true source of love. The honky-tonk country song, “Looking For Love In All The Wrong Places” might just be more theologically correct than Webster!
“What the world needs now is love, sweet love” was written back in 1965, but couldn’t be more true today–but you will have to go back even further than that if you want to know the truest definition of love.
God’s Word was written over two thousand years ago as a love letter to the world. His message is clear:
“This is how we have come to know love: He laid down His life for us.” 1 John 3:16
Here lies a simple truth that many ignore: We cannot fully understand love until we come to recognize it’s source. God did not just tell us what love looks like, but He chose to reveal it through the life and sacrificial death of His Son, Jesus.
“God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent His One and Only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him. Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” 1 John 4:9-10
Don’t you see? It’s not just a matter of us choosing to love God as important as that is–it is in realizing the depth of that love: He chose to love this sinful world even when He knew that some would reject Him. He loved first. He loved sacrificially–loving the world He created so much that He was willing to leave the throne room of heaven and come down to earth to prove it.
Jesus’ life was more than just the evidence that there is a God who created this world and everything in it. His coming ushered in the hope of heaven. The reality of our condition is clear–this is a fallen world where evil exists and sin is real. Any hope that we have for eternity and a life beyond this one is found only when you recognize God’s love and chose to put your faith in Him. It is because of His great love that He created us for a world that exists beyond this one:
“The one who has the Son has life. The one who doesn’t have the Son of God does not have life. I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.” 1 John 5:12-13
If this conversation on love sounds a bit somber, perhaps it is because just over a week ago I buried my father. I loved my father dearly, and I know that he loved me as well. It was not just a feeling or emotion, but a lifetime that demonstrated that love. Not perfectly, but it was evident. How much more has our heavenly Father demonstrated and defined love for us. 1 John 4:18 says it is a perfect love that casts out fear. We can face our eternity without fear because His love has given us the security we long for in heaven.
I have to admit, because of circumstances surrounding my father’s death, I have spent much more time in this book than any other in my journey through the Bible. I believe it is because God knew that I needed to dwell here as I navigated through a very difficult time in life. His Word has been a constant source of strength and hope for me–and it can do the same for you, too. Put your trust in God’s love. Read His personal love letter to you. Open it and start reading the true meaning of love that God has so clearly defined for you.
If you follow my Scripture Memory Challenge, let’s commit to memory 1 John 4:19–a simple but beautiful truth that we can only really know love and know how to love because He first loved us.