Can you raed tihs? Olny srmat poelpe can. I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amzanig, huh? Yaeh, and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt!*
What an incredible mind God gave us humans - eh? Scientists estimate that the human brain calculates roughly 100 trillion calculations per second! So no wonder we can burn through a paragraph without even needing all the letters. We actually have the mental capacity to ‘fix’ the letters in each world so it ends up sounding right in our minds.
Ah - but then there are the times when we often turn off our brains because a word or concept comes along that we just can’t get our minds around.
And that word or concept would be…
Rocket Science? Piece of cake actually - compared to this subject:
Wouldn’t you agree? Like the paragraph above, it oftentimes is a jumbled mess…but one that even our awesome brains can’t figure out.
Think about it. I love Monster Drinks, I love Rock-n-Roll, I love sunny days, and I love my wife. If you google ‘definition: love’, you’ll get around 50,900,000 returns.
Exactly. That’s why the extremely smart folks called the Ancient Greeks had four different words for love- so they could tell the difference and not end up in an emotional ditch because of all the confusion. They made sure that when you said you ‘love’ someone, there were clear lines between sexual attraction, friendship, or even a non-emotional commitment to seek someone’s highest good.
Have you ever been in the emotional ditch? Yeah, me too. Probably because you said you loved someone - meaning you had strong feelings for them as a person and you wanted the best for them. Then they said they loved you - meaning as long as you made them happy, were good looking, or put out physically for them.
Am I wrong?
As Valentine’s day 2009 puts love up on the big screen of society, let me offer the true definition of love from the Author of love:
This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you (John 15:12, NLT).
Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law (Romans 13:10, NLT).
For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love (Galatians 5:13, NLT).
The picture of love that the Bible paints is radically different than what we see in movies or hear on our iPods. The world tells us that love = sex. As if this amazing, awesome, life-giving combination of attraction, connection, and commitment can be reduced to ‘hooking up.’
No, the Bible tells us that love is demonstrated by what Jesus did for us - which was sacrificing himself for our good. True love doesn’t hurt others just to satisfy a desire or look good in public.
So is sexual love bad? Of course not. God invented it - remember? But He is very clear about when it’s OK, and when it will murder a part of your very soul:
‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together (Matthew 19:5-6, NLT).
God’s will is for you to be holy, so stay away from all sexual sin (1 Thessalonians 4:3, NLT).
Sexual activity and sexual union were created by God to enhance a committed marriage, not to be toyed around with in casual acquaintances and under the excuse of being ‘in love.’
It obviously doesn’t take a genius to see that incredible good AND incredible harm can be done when the words ‘I love you’ enter the picture. So my loving advice to you would be -
Change the culture around you. Help people see the difference between an honorably motivated commitment of love and a hormonally driven expression of ‘love’ that just wants to selfishly satisfy a desire designed for fulfillment in marriage.
And most importantly, remember the greatest act of love ever demonstrated on planet earth:
For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16, NLT).
Flash Point: Ignite into Action
In John 13:35, Jesus gives us a directive for evangelism that is often ignored:
“Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
The way that Christians treat each other is either a great way to bring up the gospel or it can completely ruin the chance. This week, think about how you treat other Christians at your school and ask yourself, ‘Does this help the cause of Christ, or does it get in the way of me sharing the gospel?’
Accelerant: Feed the Fire
If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance (1 Corinthians 13: 1-7). You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much (Matthew 5:43-46).
Jesus replied, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ (Matthew 22:37-39).
Lane Palmer serves as a writer for Dare 2 Share Ministries (D2S) in Arvada, Colorado, a ministry committed to energizing and equipping teenagers to know, live, share and own their faith in Jesus. For more information about D2S, please visit www.dare2share.org.