Browsing a facebook stream is a typical part of our lives these days. You scroll down and laugh at pictures, catch up on snippets from friends lives, and read interesting bits from all over the internet. We’ve become a very social culture, or anti social as the case may be.
Anyway the other day I was scrolling along and saw a rather typical post from someone bemoaning their love life. I could have scrolled on, but then I stopped, my eyes flashing over a response underneath, reading a quick sentence clipped off about how love was nothing but sex anyway.
My heart wept.
It weeps now in remembrance.
Why does this society have such a disconnect over love? It is thirsting for it like water, but sputtering as it drinks mud.
Sex, after all, is just sex. Sex is not love.
Love is the best of ourselves, freely offered and freely given. And in a committed marriage relationship a very intimate part of that can be sex. But to limit love to that is like limiting the sky to a box, like limiting a storm to a faucet, like limiting the sun to a very dull light bulb.
And this is just a scrapping, just a small example, of the disconnect over love here.
I’ve observed this disconnect over the course of my life, and I’ve wondered greatly at it. I know what love is, walked out day by day, and not just romantic love but simply LOVE. But this concept seems like a lost art or a dead language to the people I see trying to carve out their existence.
I could go on for hours and hours and pages and pages about love and this disconnect. Yet, I have a suspicion, a tiny thought, as to why this lack of understanding exists, but I wonder so much if shinning a light on this small fragile idea could make any difference at all.
Would anyone listen? Could anyone understand?
This culture, whether by intention or neglect, has slowly burrowed itself more and more into the idea of self.
Prosperity of self.
Happiness of self.
Fulfillment of self.
Marriage and relationships are about meeting emotional and relational needs. Jobs and careers are about furthering desire for wealth, prosperity, success, maybe even fame. Your goals are about you. Your life is about you. Your happiness is about you.
And the crazy thing is, many people might have no idea that all of that is completely upside down and inside out!
Because the absolute last thing love is about is about “self.”
Do you see it yet?
The focus on “Self” is “Selfishness.”
I feel many might be offended by that statement, but I don’t mean to be offensive. Selfishness is focus on self. It’s not complicated and not even debatable. Am I condemning every little thing a person does for “self?” No! But follow me through.
The antithesis of love, is selfishness.
There is a reason why love seems like a lost art. Why love seems like a dead language that no one understands.
Because this culture does not teach selflessness.
And real love must be selfless.
Real love risks opening up the intimate places of our hearts, and sharing it with others.
But this culture teaches us not to do something so “stupid” as to risk something without getting something in return.
And that’s the catch, because for love to be real, it must expect nothing in return.
It’s not that I don’t receive something in return. After all a healthy relationship requires give and take. But I do not LOVE to receive something in return.
I love, to love.
And that is it.
That is the whole equation.
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13
Yet if you lay down your life you are not doing so for a reward.
You are not doing it for praise, because you will be dead and never receive it. You are not doing it for honor, because you will be dead and never receive it. No, the love spoken of here is loving to love and only to love.
Love is enough reason, love is enough reward.
Yet I can just imagine a person reading this and scoffing. It seems insane to offer such devotion for the sake of love alone. It isn’t worth it!
And that right there. That is it. That’s why this culture doesn’t understand love. Because selfishness screams that it isn’t worth it, but selflessness doesn’t care.
It’s the exact same reason people don’t understand the cross. Because why on earth would an almighty God give everything for us just because of love? Selfishness doesn’t understand. Selflessness knows.
When I chose to love my husband I chose to love him for the sake of loving him, no matter what he did, or where life took us. I chose to love him even when it got hard, or even impossible. To love him through everything, for no more of a reason than the simple reason that I chose to love him.
God does the same with us. He chooses to love us, no matter what we do, or where we go. He chooses to love us even when things get hard, or even impossible. He chooses to love us through everything, for no more of a reason that the simple reason that He chooses to love us.
Such a love is beyond our scope. Beyond our comprehension. And so we see our culture as it stands. With so many lost and weary souls thirsting for love, but being incapable of loving.
Because love is a choice to sacrifice “selfishness,” but we think it is an emotion that we receive selfishly. We don’t understand.
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 13:4-8a (emphasis mine)
Love never fails.
~Joy Aletheia Stevens