One Word for a Thousand Things
Our culture has cheapened the idea of love, simply through overuse. When you think about it, we love everything. I love french fries, and I also love my grandmother, and I love these new shoes I got. I apply that word to 1,000 different things in one day. So, we don’t always have a very nuanced use of the term.
While we still probably understand the meaning behind the way we’re using it in any given situation, all the repetition is having a formative effect on us—the word love doesn’t always hit us the way that it should and in the way that the Bible often intends it to hit us when it’s speaking of the way to love God and others.
When we love the least of these, we look most like Christ.
Because of the way that our culture tends to think of love—almost off-hand or flippantly—when it comes to being told God loves you, it can fail to land on us with the beauty and significance that it should.
How God’s Love Differs
God’s love for us is a costly love, and it is a valuable love. It is a selfless love in the truest sense of the word because he doesn’t need anything from us in return. Human love always carries some form of need with it. We can’t separate our neediness from our ability to love. The love of God is the purest form of love that we could ever experience, and somehow, we’re supposed to be giving that form of love to others.
If we’ve diminished our understanding of what love is, if we only see it in human terms as something that has to be reciprocated or that has to meet a need for us, then we will not be drawn to love as we have been loved—which is at great cost, sacrificially, and asking for nothing in return. As a follower of Christ, the purest human love you can practice is extending costly love to someone who can do nothing in return for you. When we love the least of these, we look most like Christ.
We often say “love” when we mean sexual intimacy, or romantic love. But real love is far bigger than that.
God’s love is different from human love because it is a beautifying love.
It’s natural to feel frustrated that you’re still staring down the same habits of sin in your life.