By Lisa Jenkins-Moore
What comes to mind when you hear that phrase? In a world where the word “love” is tossed about flippantly and defined in ways many of us never imagined, is love more than a mere perception? Can it be an absolute?
It seems we often hear the word “love” in the context of tolerance. As Christ-followers, we are admonished to “Love God and love others,” but honestly, do we even know what that means? As the mom of five children (one of them a testosterone driven teenager), I question the meaning of love as it relates to a mother’s love for her children. Parenting has taught me more about the unconditional love of God for us and the heartache that comes from our rebellion more than any other experience. It has also made me realize that a key component of true love involves discipline.
I Corinthians 13 is the “love chapter.” Most of us are familiar with at least a few of the verses: “Love is patient, love is kind.” How many of us know verse six? It says, “[Love] takes no pleasure in evil, but rejoices over the truth” (ICB). Another version says, “[Love] does not rejoice in wrongdoing…” (ESV). Love and truth are inseparable; therefore, both love and truth are absolutes. Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life; Jesus and God’s Word are the same. John 1 tells us that Jesus is the Word made flesh.
So how does this manifest in our lives as Christ-followers? If we are “known by our love” just what does that love look like? I submit that love takes on different forms, but always, always looks like Jesus and His Word. We are comfortable when love manifests in a hug or taking someone a meal, but what about when love looks like discipline or correction? What happens when someone wants to know the truth about a sinful lifestyle? Does love omit the truth, or point them to Biblical standards where Christ Himself can be found?
Jesus loved sinners so much he sought them out and they enjoyed His presence. He was loving, inclusive, and merciful, but when he forgave sins, He followed with, “Go and sin, no more.” Grace does not allow a lifestyle of sin to go unnoticed and uncorrected. Grace speaks the truth in love and offers assistance to those in need. True love points to Jesus, and Jesus is the Word.
Psalm 138:2 reminds us that God puts His Word above His Name. In these twisted, shaded, morally fluid times, we cannot forget the importance of Scripture. It is our foundation, and our manual for living and for loving. True love doesn’t distort the truth in order to make others feel comfortable. Ephesians 4:15a says, “Let our lives lovingly express truth [in all things, speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly]” (AMPC).
Beth Moore made a profound statement, one we should all heed as a warning.
You will watch a generation of Christians—OF CHRISTIANS—set the Bible aside in an attempt to become more like Jesus. And stunningly it will sound completely plausible. This will be, perhaps, the cleverest of all the devil’s schemes to our generations. Sacrifice TRUTH for LOVE’s sake. And you will rise or fall based upon whether you will sacrifice one for the other. Will you have the courage to live in the tension of both TRUTH & LOVE?
Oh, dear reader let us have the courage to stand in tumultuous times. May we care more about God’s opinion than man’s. Rather than living lives entangled in harsh judgment, let us live lives so full of love that those around us accept the truth we live and speak as well. In a sea of uncertainty, children of God can be a lighthouse, a beacon of hope shining forth with an unchangeable standard of truth and love.
Love is more than a feeling. Love is an action.
Love the way God loves. Every day we are faced with the opportunity to show God’s love. May we not be pressured to define love by the world’s standards, but steadfast in our understanding of God’s absolutes, compromising neither truth nor love but living in the reality of both.