The idea of love has been used and abused in our culture to no end. It has come to the point that people have a hard time recognizing true love and even more, they have lost how radical love truly is.
What is love?
1 Corinthians 13:4-5 Love endures with patience and serenity, love is kind and thoughtful, and is not jealous or envious; love does not brag and is not proud or arrogant. It is not rude; it is not self-seeking, it is not provoked [nor overly sensitive and easily angered]; it does not take into account a wrong endured.
Love has to look like something. It is not enough to say that love is a feeling or an emotion that we experience. There are many people that claim to have the feeling of love but it never actually becomes an action. Love cannot be something that we mentally assent to without letting touch our lives. The Bible is incredibly clear about what love looks like, but it is often reinterpreted because of how radical it is.
1. Love comes from God
We only love to the extent that we have experienced God's love. God is waiting to pour his love out on you in a way that is tangible and life-changing. Since before the world began God was thinking about you. He was intimately involved when you were in your mother's womb. You were not a chance. Even now he sees every move you make and delights in it because you are the apple of his eye. As you go to sleep he sings and dances over you with joy. You are his. Even when you messed up he thought of a plan to remove your sin from you as far as the east is from the west. Now he has no record of your sin or your wrong, and so you do not need to do anything except rest in his love and acceptance. He wants these words to become an experience with his love and then for you to become it. We become love through experiencing love.
Throughout the rest of the post, there may be an area that the Holy Spirit highlights as needing to change in your own life. That is okay! By experiencing his love, you will become love yourself.
2. Love is in the fruit of the spirit
In Galatians 5:22 Paul talks about the fruit of the spirit and the way that a person should act. The first fruit- "love", is expanded upon in the list that follows. In total, the list provides a great definition of what love should look like in your life.
To explain what I mean I'll pick on patience. I hear people say all the time: "I'm just not a patient person". They say it as a joke, but if you aren't patient then you aren't loving. People think that their patience has nothing to do with how loving they are. The truth is, a person is infinitely more valuable than your time or convenience and when you see the incredible life that is in front of you, you have the option of love.
I do not have the time to write about each one here, but each fruit adds a different dimension to creating a loving person. Without one of the fruits, love is incomplete.
3. Love is a perspective
Love is not just a series of actions. It's a perspective that you look through. Jesus was the model of love on this earth and his love was unshakable because it was more than actions. He actually saw people from the perspective of love.
His entire life Jesus did nothing wrong. As he was going to be crucified he knew that he would be personally betrayed by his disciples. Men that spent three years with him and who would choose their own lives over his even though they promised they would die with him. He knew that the same crowds that he healed would choose a murderer over his life. He knew that although he was completely blameless that he would take the blame for everything wrong that has ever been done. Any one of us would be appalled and an emotional wreck if we experienced a fraction of the injustice. And as he was dying on the cross he said: "'You ungrateful people! All I ever did was heal your sick and raise your dead, and this is how you treat me!
Of course not.
As he was dying Jesus said: "forgive them father for they don't know what they do."
To share a few thoughts from Dan Mohler: It sounds strange when those words are put in Jesus' mouth and we say that it's because he is God. In reality, they should sound just as strange coming out of your mouth because you were made for his image. It wasn't because he was God that he responded that way to all the injustice. It's because he was love. He never let the sin against him produce sin within him. He is God, but he endured suffering with joy because of love. He saw how valuable you were and decided that he would choose you.
This perspective is not unattainable. We are called into the same type of love. Even Stephen prayed those same final words while he was being stoned without cause. After all, love does not take account of a suffered wrong.
The standard for love was set by Jesus. It is not set by the culture or the people around us and it is more radical than you may have thought. Embracing love of this kind means that nothing can offend you, break you or throw you off. It means that you hurt for people not at the hand of people. It means that you cry for others and not because of them. It means embracing the life of Jesus as a model for your own.
The only way that you can step toward this life is by spending time with Jesus and experience his love. Spend time with the truths that I gave in the first point. Look up the bible verses and talk to Jesus about what he says. Let what he says about you become more important than anything else in your life.