Friday, January 30, 2009

L.O.L. - Love Out Loud

Unless you are texting illiterate, you know that there is a whole texting language and most of it I have yet to figure out. Not long ago I sent a text to one of our staff members and received “BRB” as the response. I spent the next two hours trying to figure out what “BRB” meant. How was I to know that this staff member was in a meeting and “BRB” was texting language for “Be Right Back”? But one texting reference I have figured out is “LOL” which stands for “Laugh Out Loud”. But this Sunday we will begin a brand new study here at Grace Church through First Corinthians 13 in which we have altered the texting message “LOL” to mean “Love Out Loud”!

The essence of love is completely misunderstood today. If you were to look up the word “love” in Webster’s Dictionary and search for the simplest definition you would discover that love is a “strong affection or feeling”. And therein lies the problem. The world’s view of love is based on a feeling. What’s wrong with that? Certainly love involves feelings but it cannot be based completely on feelings because feelings are temporary and are based on circumstances. When circumstances are good I feel like I am in love. But when circumstances are difficult, suddenly the feelings of love go right out the window.

The Bible is very explicit when it comes to talking about love. The majority of the New Testament was written in the Greek language which has four main words for love. Each of them is distinct from the others. First, there is the word “phileo” which describes a tender affection (Matthew 23:6). This would be the word closest to the definition we saw earlier from Daniel Webster. Second, there is the word “philanthropia” which is a compound word made up of the word “phileo” meaning a “tender affection”, and the word “anthropos” which means “man”. Put together this word describes a “love for mankind”. The third word is the word “eros” where we get our English word “erotic”. This word speaks of sexual love. Interestingly enough, this word is never used in the entire New Testament although the Bible does have much to say about sexual intimacy.

Finally, there is the word “agape” which speaks of a self-sacrificial love which is always ready to serve. This was the rarest used word for love in ancient Greek literature but the most common in the New Testament. This type of love exemplifies God (John 3:16; 1 John 4:8-11). This is also the word used in 1 Corinthians 13 which has become known as the “love chapter” and which contains no less than 16 characteristics of real love. The important thing to keep in mind is that this love has nothing to do with feelings. This love is a choice. It is also the word in the Bible used to speak of love in marriage. Often I will have couples tell me that they have “fallen” out of love. This isn’t possible when it comes to the First Corinthians 13 style of love. Love is not some tree that you can fall out of. You don’t fall out of love…you chose to quit loving. There is a big difference. Unfortunately, when people think of First Corinthians 13 they only think in the context of marriage. But First Corinthians 13 is not written in the context of marriage. This chapter is written about life in the church. This new series will be about how we as believers can show real true, Biblical love one to anther so that the word will know that we are followers of Jesus.

No comments: