One of my earliest recollections of “love” was when I was in first grade. My twin sister Amy had a boyfriend named Wade Letterman. Each morning when momma dropped us off at school Wade would be there waiting for her, sometimes even holding flowers or a gift for her. They were inseparable at recess and just seemed to always be gazing at each other. Their puppy love went on for some time and I thought it was just yucky! Since that early experience I have come to see love in a whole different way.
“God is love” (1 John 4:8). His very nature is manifested in his every action. The greatest act of his love was demonstrated over 2000 years ago, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Having responded by faith to the Gospel I am not only a beneficiary of God’s love, but have his love in me. “Because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:5).
I am commanded to love God and others with this divine love (Matthew 22:37-39). My love for God is expressed to him by being obedient to his commandments (John 14:15), and by showing love to others by looking out for their good even if it requires me to die as Christ did (1 John 3:16).
The question for me is “How do I know if I am exercising this divine love that is in me?” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 helps me with the answer. “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” I need to remind myself of these verses frequently especially when relationships with others become difficult.
My favorite story of love has not even happened yet. It is when the “Bridegroom” Jesus Christ returns for his “Bride” that is the church. The Apostle John offers this glimpse of this coming marriage.
“Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,
For the Lord our God
the Almighty reigns.
7 Let us rejoice and exult
and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his Bride has made herself ready;
8 it was granted her to clothe herself
with fine linen, bright and pure’—
for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.
9 And the angel said to me, ‘Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’ And he said to me, ‘These are the true words of God’” (Revelation 19:6-9).
This story of love is not yucky but splendid and glorious! Rejoicing in knowing I have been invited to the marriage supper of the lamb. In the meantime: Father God, Thank you for loving me. Help me to love you with all my heart, soul, and strength; and to love my neighbor as myself. Amen.