This is not another blog post outlining “12 Signs He Loves You.” This is not an article on “What Men Want in a Woman.” This is not a quiz to find your celebrity soulmate.There are a lot of clichés about love, especially around this time of the year. I thought love would be an easy subject to write about because it’s such a common subject. And yet, what is there to say about it that hasn’t been said already? How do you write about the first of the fruits of the spirit in 1,000 words or less and still do it justice? How do you write about the subject that the greatest writers throughout history have struggled to grasp (cue Shakespeare, who basically killed off all his stories’ lovers)? How do you write about something that has started and ended wars? What is there to really say about love?
The Bible says, “God is love” (1 John 4:8). “Is” in math means equal. Two plus two equals four. Two plus two is four. Unlike mathematical equations, though, you can’t flip the two sides of this equal sign. God is love, but love is not god.
Sometimes Hollywood gets it wrong. Sometimes real life gets it wrong. Sometimes we spend so much time searching for love that it becomes our god. Now, there’s nothing wrong with the feeling that gives you butterflies in your stomach and makes you sick when you’re away from the source of it; James 1:17 says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above,” and romantic love is one of those gifts. But love. is. not. god.
So what, then, is it? John 15:13 reads, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Although I love (oops I mean like) a good chick flick as much as anyone, there’s a better kind of love than Hollywood knows. How do you tie together “God is love” and John 15:13? To understand true love, we have to look at the greatest of love stories. To understand true love, we have to look at Jesus.
Jesus’ name has struck many emotions into human hearts throughout history and has been the source of brutal conflict. But Jesus’ name represents the greatest love story man has ever known. Jesus’ name represents the greatest love story yet to come.
So here it is. Here’s the love story that has been a catalyst of war and conflict for centuries. Here’s the love story that has divided countries and families. Here’s the love story that has changed my own small, insignificant-in-the-course-of-history life. In 1,000 words or less.
God created the world, and he created man to be his companions. But then Adam and Eve did the one thing God had forbidden, and, not trusting God’s warning, they ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in an attempt to be their own gods. This act of disobedience broke their world and their perfect community with God. This act of disobedience birthed death.
But God doesn’t give up that easy, thank goodness. Years passed, and man disobeyed more. Man began to hate, and man began to kill. Throughout the Old Testament, man walked away from God time and again, and God pursued a continued relationship with him. But things kept getting worse, and man kept rejecting God.
Then 400 years of silence between the Old and New Testament. God’s people lived in sin without a word from him. Sometimes they made sacrifices of animals to atone for their sins, but nothing they could do of their own accord could make things right. And yet, God still loved them, so one night in Bethlehem, a virgin gave birth to God’s perfect son, who was also fully man and could therefore one day stand in man’s place before a perfect God.
And on that first Christmas night, the shepherds and the wise men alike came to worship him as king. But even then, as a baby, Jesus was controversy. As he slept in that manger as the newborn Messiah, the rulers of the time sought his death. They had heard he was the promised Messiah who would grow up to conquer Israel’s suppressors. They had heard he would grow up to be a military hero who would defeat them.
But Jesus grew up to be a carpenter and a teacher, not a warrior. The Messiah had come, but not in the form the leaders had expected. The Messiah had come—not as a king, but as a servant. The religious leaders despised him as a false prophet, and the political leaders feared him as a military power. And at the age of 33, as sinless man and fully God, Jesus was executed on the cross for wrongs he did not commit. Jesus died for sins man had committed, or was committing, or would commit. God “laid on him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:6), and Jesus died with the weight of all humankind’s sins—past, present, future—on his shoulders.
But that was not the end. Jesus rose from the dead on the third day after his death. Romans 4:25 says, “He was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised to life to make us right with God.” Sin and death came into the world through Adam and Eve, and they were conquered through Jesus. Jesus as Messiah defeated an enemy far more mighty and far more dangerous than any earthly kingdom; Jesus as Savior defeated sin and death. And although our bodies still die in this broken world, “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
So, do you know Jesus? Do you know everlasting and unconditional love? Because it’s never too late to take your place in the greatest love story of all time.