Saturday, 30 August 2008


What is love? Here are a few definitions of love by some famous people:

"Love is an irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired." (Robert Frost)

"Love is not consolation. It is light." (Friedrich Nietzsche)

"Love is the greatest refreshment in life." (Pablo Picasso)

"Love is a smoke made with the fume of sighs." (William Shakespeare)

"Love is a gross exaggeration of the difference between one person and everybody else." (George Bernard Shaw)

"Love is a canvas furnished by Nature and embroidered by imagination." (Voltaire)

While looking up some of these quotations on the internet, I came across a blog called "Love is _____" which has the following tagline:

"Everyone has a different concept of what love is. Tell us what word or phrase you think best completes the sentence Love is ____! For us, it's Love is cupcakes."

One of the recent TV ads for the John McCain campaign also centres on the theme of love:

This ad talks about "another kind of love" and describes John McCain as "a man who has always put his country and her people before self". His love for his country is admirable. Not many people would be willing to give up so much of their own comforts and suffer so much for the sake of their country. This truly does give a new definition to the meaning of love.

However, I must say that even this admirable love that John McCain is portrayed as having really means nothing to me personally. What I mean is that his love and service is directed to the American people and not to me personally, especially since I'm not American. Fair enough - he is an American and he's running for President of the United States. I wish him every success in his campaign and hope he gets the chance to serve as the next American President, but my own life is not really affected by what he has done and is doing for his country.

The best definition of love is found in the Bible:

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

(1 Corinthians 13:4-7, ESV)

This certainly is a different kind of love. More than a feeling and a passing pleasure. It is giving up one's own desires for the good of others. Unconditionally. Constantly. Completely. How can we ever understand this kind of love or get a picture of it? Again, we find the answer in the Bible:

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8, ESV)

In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10, ESV)

So we see the ultimate expression of love in Jesus Christ - in His life and His death. This love is shown to us as sinners and enemies of God. It is our sin that separates us from God. Because God is holy, He can have nothing to do with sin, and because He is just, He must punish sin. And our sin is so great that we all deserve to die. The good news is that God is not only holy and just, but also loving. So loving that Jesus Christ died in our place and took the punishment for our sins on Himself. The word "propitiation" in the second verse means the removal of wrath. Because the full punishment of our sins was placed on Christ, there remains no more wrath that God can direct towards us if we place our trust in Christ for salvation. The most well-known verse in the Bible says:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16, ESV)

Stuart Townend wrote a beautiful song called "How deep the Father's love for us" which reflects on this amazing love (click here to listen to the song):

How deep the Father's love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon the cross
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice
Call out amoung the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts no power no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

Have you experienced this kind of love? Are you living this kind of love and passing it on to others? Or don't you even know this kind of love?

John Piper believes that most Americans don't really know what love is. In the following video clip, he tries to give a definition of love as he sees it in the Bible and apply it to our lives. May we know and live the love of Christ!

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