I used to work at a dining hall in my college years. Whether it be making sandwiches, cooking on the grill, or working the register, I was never really satisfied just repeating the mundane and monotonous task I was assigned. A lot of times I would find myself trying to stimulate some sort of intellectual conversation about religion, philosophy, psychology, or simply anything that would help the time pass more quickly.
Out of all the conversations I had at this job, there is one that is still with me to this day. There was never a question that brought about more diverse responses and reactions than the question: What is love?
After surveying my co-workers, I took the question to the customers (when management wasn’t around). I’ve compiled a list of some of the most common answers below.
When asked, “What does ‘love’ mean to you?” people responded:
“having the power”
…and many others opted not to answer.
The answers are all over the spectrum. Some are even direct contradictions of others.
Why does this one phrase mean so many things to different people? Shouldn’t something as seemingly common as the word ‘love’ be defined in such a way that everyone is in accord concerning its meaning? Does no one know the answer?!
St. John the Beloved seemed to think that he did when he wrote:
“He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (1 John 4:8)
Put another way, he who does not know God does not know what love is.
See, love isn’t a thing. It’s a person. It’s God.
Let’s spell it out by looking at the phrase “I love you.” Now let’s use some elementary school logic and substitute the word ‘God’ for the word ‘love’ because as previously stated, God is love.
The phrase then becomes “I God you.”
That sounds funny, I know, but think about it. Telling someone that you love them expresses your desire to put God between the two of you. It says “I’m on this side, and you’re over there – let’s live our lives in pursuit of God together. In the above phrase, pretend that man is the word ‘I’ and woman is the word ‘you.’ As they come closer and closer together, they become closer and closer to God, and eventually all three words are on top of one another.
You see, God the creator of relationships, is the ultimate example of the perfect relationship – The Trinity – Father, Son, Holy Spirit. In the same way, a relationship between a man and a woman should be a Trinity as well, meaning it should be between the man, the woman, and GOD! You cannot and will not have a successful relationship if it’s not based on and around God, and for this to even be possible, you have to know God.
There are countless stories of two individuals being hopelessly ‘in love’ with each other only to go their separate ways months or years later. Why??? Because the relationship was not about God! It did not bring Him glory! He was not in it!
Simply put, we as men have screwed up big time when it comes to loving a woman. What have we done? We’ve traded one of the most precious things that He has given us for a lie. We pollute our minds with the filth of this world when it comes to relationships. Where are the men who want to pursue and love a woman God’s way instead of basing our lives on what we’ve learned from sitcoms and the successes and failures of the stories we hear from others?!
Many chase after women solely because they think they’re hott, completely forgetting about the “hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.” (1 Peter 3:4)
Many don’t know what they want and they think dating recreationally will help them figure it out.
Still, many others are stumbling around unsure of how to lead and treat a woman because they do not know God.
As you come to know God, you’ll come to know what true love is. You’ll come to understand that it’s the real deal – that you want nothing else because nothing in the world compares with it. Love isn’t a feeling. It isn’t meeting the needs of your partner. It’s sacrificing and giving of yourself to another just as God sacrificed and gave of Himself to you.
Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for [the ones you love]. (John 15:13)