Lately we have been hearing a lot about the Congresswoman and the Astronaut. Sadly, it took a senseless tragedy, one that resulted in the loss of innocent lives, for the nation’s focus to be on this couple. After reeling from the shocking news, hope was revived as news came out that Congresswoman, Gabrielle Gifford, may pull through this assassination attempt on her life.
Then more encouraging news came: she was responding to her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, who never left her bedside. As he recalled to Diane Sawyer in an interview (www.mediabistro.com/Diane-Sawyer-profile.html), it was her little movements that spoke volumes about the love relationship in this marriage; movements that only a loved one might note. Now, their love relationship has captured the hearts of America.
When people deeply love each other, those gestures are usually meant to be private. But as the public was granted permission to peer into the privacy of their relationship, a picture of a loving marriage emerged.
Created for Love
God is love. We are created in His image (Genesis 1:27) and thus, we are created to love and be loved. “We love because God first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)
As a school administrator and minister to children, I have counseled people for nearly 40 years. It is evident when the needs to be loved and to love are being met, and sadly, when they are not. Love is the glue that holds us together.
Profoundly Simple and Simply Profound
So how do we get this love? Where does it come from? The local Hallmark store, or even our favorite Christian store?
Major W. Ian Thomas writes in his excellent book The Indwelling Life of Christ that an oil lamp needs oil to produce light. Trying to light an oil lamp without oil is illogical, just as trying to drive our car without the gasoline is likewise utterly unreasonable. The same is true with human beings. Simply urging them to be good and draw from the depth of their personality cannot succeed in producing righteousness from human beings. We need the indwelling power of Christ in us.
Oil in the lamp, gas in the car…and Christ in the Christian. Receiving Christ in us is called the new birth, being born again, as our soul is awakened by God’s Spirit. The new birth puts God’s love into action in us. We love, because He first loved us.
Jesus has God’s DNA – Divine Nature from Above. “For in Him the fullness of Deity continues to dwell in bodily form; giving complete expression of the divine nature.” (Colossians 2:10, AMP). “It was God’s original intention that by the indwelling of the Spirit of Christ, every human being should fully experience His Life and become a participant in the divine nature.”
As Major Ian Thomas writes, “It is profoundly simple, and simply profound.”
Yet, we look around and see a world hungry for this love relationship. What is our part?
Love Is In the Air
While we are still packing up the Christmas decorations, and before the snowmen have melted, we have Valentine decorations displayed in every store. Cards, hearts, candy, and roses beacon us to express our love.
Just as those without close family relationships may feel more lonely and isolated at Christmas, those longing for love may feel the loss of a special “love” relationship around Valentine’s Day.
But the deeper longing of the soul is to know the love of God, through Jesus Christ His Son. We can reach out to love our neighbors as ourselves and in so doing, open the door to God’s love.
As 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7 reminds us, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, 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.”
That is the love that transcends the seasonal hearts, candy, and roses. It is the unfailing love of God that endures forever. (Psalm 117:7; 118:1-4, 29)
Love in Any Language
So, if God created us to love and be loved, why is it so hard to love at times? On a psychological level, we know that our past affects our ability to love today. Those painful experiences often take years to heal.
On a practical level, the concept of The Five Love Languages presented in Gary Chapman’s books gives us a quick way to see that we hear and express love in different ways. While it may seem overly simplistic on the first reading, I have found that it has far-reaching application. Going in-depth with the concept at marriage conferences, counseling with parents, at Mother-Daughter retreats, with teachers, and counseling kids, I see it as a valuable tool.
Prayerfully consider trying to love those in your world in the different love languages and make note if you see a difference, especially those you have had a little trouble loving in the past. For example:
Encouraging words: Most people respond positively to this one. But how about someone that you know may rarely hear these words, if ever? There is always something to encourage in a person. Try it. You will see a light come on in their eyes.
Perhaps we can express love with an appropriate physical touch, looking directly into their eyes, hearing with our hearts, spending time, investing in their lives, and even in some tangible way that says, “I care”.
Denis Waitley, in Seeds of Greatness, expresses it beautifully.
L- listening when another is speaking
O- overlooking petty faults and forgive all failures
V- valuing other people for who they are
E- expressing love in a practical way.
Your Assignment…Should You Choose to Accept It
Pray for God to use you more fully to express His love to others, especially those who seemingly aren’t as lovable, or may not ‘deserve’ it in our eyes. Read 1 John and go on a love mission.
Love because He first loves us. Love because love comes from God. Love because there is no fear in love. Love because this is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. Let us not love (only) with our words or tongue, but with actions and truth.