“Hard to breathe; feels like floating, so full of love my heart's exploding, mouth is dry, hands are shaking...Finally time for this poor schlubb, to know how it feels to fall in lub.”
According to the romantic comedy ‘Mr Deeds’ this is a description of love. According to the Oxford English Dictionary love is, “An intense feeling of deep affection.”
Neither of these definitions even comes close to defining what love really is or how it plays out in our everyday life but fortunately we have another source that tells us what love is actually all about.
What is love?
The English language does us a disservice by only having one word for love. In the same breath you can say you love your spouse and you love bacon yet you would clearly (I hope!) have a different relationship with your husband or wife than with bacon.
Languages such as Latin had multiple words for how to describe love yet even that would probably not be enough.
Love involves our emotions, our mind, and our body; our actions and our feelings and that is why it is so hard to pin down. Real love is not just feeling affection for someone, although you can not properly love someone without feeling affection for them.
There are also different degrees of love, we can love all our church family without necessarily being prepared to throw ourselves in front of a runaway train to save their life like we would likely be prepared to do for our spouse or child.
Since love is so hard to define it is best to leave it up to God to give the definition which we find in John chapter 15, verse 13, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
Love requires work not just feelings
In any successful relationship whether it be romantic or otherwise it has to founded on more than just feelings. Feelings are an important part of relationships – we are not robots after all, so we need more than just feelings.
Would we want a world where our friend or spouse or parents only loved us when we were inspiring them with positive warm feelings or would we want a world where even when we were cranky, inconvenient, and difficult, we were loved and treated with care and compassion?
In traditional Christian wedding vows, the bride and groom promise to take each other “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, according to God's holy ordinance.”
Marriage is supposed to be a picture of the type of love God has for us, a love so vast that even when we were God’s enemies he sent his own beloved son to die so that we could be reconciled to him.
This is a representation of the love God has for his church – the type of love that is so strong that giving your life for another person is the type of thing you would happily do.
Love is not about us
True love is not about us, it is about those who we love – through trial and hardship, when they’re deserving and undeserving, and when we feel like it and don’t feel like it.
1 Corinthians chapter 13 is a popular passage for weddings but it is speaking not just of the love in a marriage but love in all areas and relationships in our lives. Since God always says it best I will finish with 1 Corinthians chapter 13, verses 4-8, and 13.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It is not rude, 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. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away...
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. “
Jessica McPherson lives with her best friend and husband, Eoin and their family of rescue animals in Christchurch. She loves reading, writing, photography and scrap-booking but most of all sharing God’s love and truth with a hurting world. Jessica is particularly passionate about encouraging children and building them up in gospel truth.