By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. .. Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth (1 John 3:16, 18)
For as long as I can remember I have been struggling with love. Understanding the ‘concept of love’. What it should look and feel like. In the community I grew up in, love was the most important thing and was the answer to all questions. I felt horribly wrong, because I didn’t feel love. I know I was loved by my parents and some other people, but my inability to love others was a source of great confusion.
It seemed like everybody knew what love was, except me. I felt like a failure.
I tried to feel love, but the harder I tried the more confused I got. I started asking people about their idea about love, but that even confused me more. It seemed like everybody had his or her own idea about love. They talked about feeling nice when being together, taking care of each other, romantic love and intimacy, feeling accepted and happy, growing self-esteem and feeling beautiful. To me it sounded all superficial and most of the time rather selfish and not like ‘the Real Deal’. I wanted to experience the Real Deal. Real Love. I was waiting for that feeling to overcome me.
And it didn’t.
No Common Ground in Love
Even when I was with my first husband I didn’t feel the Love that I expected to feel and wanted to experience. I did feel a lot though: sexual attraction, care, happiness. We had fun. It was nice being together. I did the things I thought I was supposed to do as a wife and later as a mother, but somehow I felt a fraud. The marriage failed. There was no common ground in love and when that’s the case other things start to play a role … doubts, arguments, unfaithfulness.
This process repeated itself 2 times. Falling in love, feeling attraction, building a relationship based on feelings and thoughts, ending in divorce. Again there was no common ground in love. I thought that I might never really know what love is, but I kept searching.
I finally found LOVE
But then, at the age of 52, in His mercy and grace God revealed Love to me. He showed me that true Love can only be known through Him, because He, the Mighty Creator God IS love. He showed me through His Word that His essence, His whole being and everything He does IS Love.
He IS Love
We human beings have narrowed down love to a fluffy, romantic or sometimes overwhelming feeling, but His Love is something totally different. He does not just do things out of love, but He breathes Love, He creates Love. His whole creation IS love. Everything He created is a part of His Love. We are literally abiding IN HIS LOVE all the time.
I learned that ‘We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). So, now I finally had a starting place: the Love of God. Of course, the follow-up question arose. How should I then love, since all my previous attempts had failed utterly? How do I love according to God’s Holy Love? Lucky me, I now knew where to look! He gave me His Word and He gave me the Holy Spirit on my journey to Love.
” And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” (Romans 5:5)
Following God’s example
The greatest example of LOVE is what God did for us, by sacrificing His Son, because He loved us so deeply. Our Lord Jesus, our Savior gave His life in obedience to His Father. His Love was a total surrender, because He knew the LOVE of His Father. He knew the that humanity could only be saved through God’s LOVE.
When I look at Gods amazing LOVE, I now understand that this is what Love is: total obedience to God, total surrender and the willingness to lay down my own life for the Love of God. To give up my own life for the other. To give up my pride to serve somebody. To obey God by denying myself. To obey God by being other-centered and God-centered instead of merely self-centered. To obey God in everything He asks, because He does everything out of His great Love.
Am I willing to obey Him? Am I striving to do good to others? Am I willing to encourage the disheartened and help the weak? Do I practice to be patient with others? Am I willing to serve the other, not matter how hard it is?
“By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments” (1 John 5:2)
“There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13)
Living in God’s Love means: OBEY!
Jesus showed me that Love is an obligation. In relationships with others I’m not waiting for a feeling of love any longer. I am willfully applying His rules to my life. I’m making a conscious effort in obeying Him to Love like He did, in order to become more like Him.
I can only Love others like that when I stay close to Jesus, being nurtured by His Love. I have to immerse myself in His Word and to ask the Holy Spirit to work in my heart, my soul and my mind. Only then His Love can flow freely through me to others.
Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law.” (Romans 13:8)
Are you looking for some practical advice on HOW to Love in God’s way? This can be found all over the New Testament! Here you will find what God Himself says about it.