This morning I woke up with the topic of true love on my mind. Seriously... I woke up thinking about it.
The world has wonky ways of thinking about true love, and most of them center on how love makes us feel. Terms like "soul mate" are tossed around by people who spend little-to-no time nurturing their own souls, and yet somehow expect to know when they've found someone whose soul meshes with theirs (neglected and unknown as it may be). Many times it seems that what people are searching and longing for is not so much love as it is the byproduct of love. We want the benefits, the perks: We don't want to be alone. We want someone to witness our lives and accomplishments. We want to know the experience of a family of our own. We want to be known and accepted. We want physical intimacy. We want to explore a side of life that we can only explore with someone who loves us.
It seems to me, as I process all of this, that none of that is love at all. None of it. The things we seek and long for are not the core of what love is. Sadly, we can fabricate the byproduct of love without much effort, we can even build a relationship around the byproduct of love without real love having any part of it (for awhile anyway).
Love = Whole-Hearted Commitment
The Bible tells us that God LOVES the world; He loves His children. Christianity involves accepting that love and seeking to build a relationship where we learn to love God by reflecting the ways that He has first loved us. When God first loved us, we didn't even know Him, let alone love Him back. He loved us sacrificially (to say the least).
Sadly, I have found myself settling for the benefits and perks of a love relationship with God without actually pursuing love itself. I get heady over the byproducts of being His child, and skim over the depths of the committed relationship itself. This is an easy thing to do. This is why whenever someone is struggling or dissatisfied in their "relationship with God" one of the first questions we should ask is, "How much time are you spending in prayer?" With the close second being, "When was the last time you read your Bible with intentionality?" Followed by the third, "Are you consistently involved in a local church?" Then rounding things out with the fourth, "Are you reaching out to others to meet their needs and invite them into a relationship with your Father?" Those four acts - prayer, reading scripture, engaging with other believers, and reaching out to others - show commitment. They are the building blocks of a love relationship with God. What makes those four acts meaningful is the attitude of our hearts when we engage in them.
True love is knowing what translates as commitment to the person you are trying to love and doing those things, over and over again, over a long period of time (with the right attitude to boot). Over the years and through the ups and downs, this leads to a sweet spot that is far better than anything you could conjure up on your own. This is true with a spouse and it is true with our relationship with the God of the Universe.
Check these out for more to chew on:
I John 4:16 - 5:2
I Corinthians 13:4-7
Carla Ritz. Proof positive that God uses cracked pots!