Love isn’t something we need to emulate or live up to, but something that Jesus already did and is.
The World’s Standard
Recently I have been intrigued by the true meaning of love. We all know the perfect romantic plot: the knight in shining armor waits in the wings and saves the girl at the very end, so they fall in love and live happily ever after. That is what society says that love should look like, and that is what I thought love should look like. In the beginning of Love Actually, one of my favorite movies, a character comments: “It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there—fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends…If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.”
If it really is everywhere, why is it so hard? As I began to think about love, how we love and particularly how I love, I was challenged. When I reflect on how I treat even my close friends, I find that in many ways I fall short of loving them fully. There always seems to be a limit to how I love or how much I love someone. Then when I realize that I fall short, far short, of where I think I should be, feelings of guilt and failure kick in and I am motivated to try harder. That works until my own selfish agenda gets in the way and I fail again, restarting the vicious cycle. Clearly, I can never fully love someone in my own strength.
The Perfect Standard
A few Sundays ago, the opening scripture passage was the familiar passage on love. “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. Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8) I have often heard that passage and thought that there is no way that I can live up to that definition of love; it’s a good day when I can live out just one part of it. That Sunday, however, I heard that love isn’t something we need to emulate or live up to, but something that Jesus already did and is—He is love personified. Though I am deeply aware of my selfish inability to love—how much I do not deserve love—Jesus gave all His perfection and glory to come down and take my place. His record is now mine. That is amazing love. That is the gospel. That is the good news.
As this gospel love shapes each of us, we can demonstrate this love to one another more and more. I see it in the community of Metro. I see it in my community group. I see it in my friends. I see it in my family. Each member of Metro shows me another aspect of love that I would not be able to experience on my own, and I am so grateful to the community around me. Love really is all around, in many forms. It may not look like the ‘happily ever after” that we’re looking for; it can get messy, and most of the time it is hard. But Jesus calls us to love because He first loved us. He is love. — Benica currently attends Metro Presbyterian Church and volunteers her time serving as a children’s church teacher.