1 John 4:7-8
What is love?
Merriman Webster offers that love may be to hold dear, or cherish. Dictionary.com suggests that it might be to have a strong liking for, or to take pleasure in. Wikihow suggests love is the following: "Love is much more than a risk, but is a risk that one can take and grasp and fall into a dark abyss or dig oneself a hole and only crawl back when you overcome your emotions."
1 Corinthians says that "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."
Few words have such vague and varied definitions.
We go through life with the notion that love is important. From a very young age, children feel affection towards those who take care of them. They feel affinity for those who they need. And then, as they get older, they start to wonder, and decide, if they are going to be the kind of people who provide for the need or provide the need itself.
We understand love long before we know the word.
Oh, there are variations- there is being in love (which is the western premise for marriage), there is loving someone unconditionally (without fail, despite the circumstances), there is brotherly love, friendly love, love for things, love for concepts- many people, for example, are in love with the idea of love.
But no one really knows how to vocalize love. No one has written down instructions on how to make yourself feel love, or how to create love, or where love is sourced from within ourselves.
As someone who follows the bible, you can imagine that this would create an issue.
See, God is adamant that love is essential. "For God so loved the world, He gave his only Son"... it's one of the first verses many christians learn. It's in this love that Christianity differs from so many other religions- the love sets it apart. And we who believe it know ourselves to be called to love the same way.
No one ever taught me how to love. Sometimes I wonder if I am doing it right.
Love is one of those things that we know that we have to do. But if 1st corinthians is to be believed, then we can't boast about it, we can't use it against people, and we really can't use it for our best interests. Love is meant to be a downright giving act, something that we do despite ourselves, and not something that at the end of the day we should be patting ourselves on the back for. If we do things out of love, we aren't supposed to turn it around and use it in our defense- "well if I hadn't loved (blah blah blah) so much, then I would still have (blah blah blah)..." It's one of those things that we just have to know how to do.
Luckily for me, I learn by example. And Jesus is the greatest example of love, because He came, He taught, He wept, He died, and He never required anything in return. He only gave a bridge to heaven, to eternity, to life.
No one ever taught me how to love. But the greatest example of love has provided me the perfect picture. And I suppose that's why the bible encourages us to follow in His ways and become more like Him. Because while He never put it into words, He knew how to make it work.
For God so loved the world, that He gave us a chance to love it to. And for that, I love Him, the first step towards loving everyone else.