1 John 4: 7-21
Pastor Chris Tweitmann
What is love? It’s a question lots of people have tried to answer, from William Shakespeare to Haddaway. Many different conclusions about love have resulted. There are those who perceive love as something one falls into and out of. For some, love is nothing more than a meaningless abstraction. Still others contend love can be whatever you want it to be.
For all the various answers, one thing remains certain. Everyone is looking for love in one form or another. The effect of knowing you are loved by someone else is not only life-changing; it is life-giving. We, each of us, need to be loved. Our desire for love is hardwired into our humanity. Think about it. A baby cries. Then Mom or Dad pick up the baby, snuggle her close, and then, the crying stops. Even though a baby can’t understand it yet, a baby innately longs to be loved.
Throughout our lives, as we grow from being infants into persons who can walk and talk, that same longing does not go away. Love is a basic human need, as core as food and oxygen. Mother Teresa once expressed it this way: “There is more hunger for real love and appreciation in this world than for bread.”
So, what is love?
Much of how we perceive love is what we have seen on TV or in the movies or have read in books or on social media. All throughout our lives we’ve had love defined and framed by repeated romantic tales – told again and again with alternating characters, different background music, but always with the same tagline: “And they lived happily ever after!”
Life, however, is not a rom-com. Opposites may attract but don’t necessarily stay together until death do us part. Relationships are messy, often complicated, and rarely, if ever, come together seamlessly. What we experience of love never lines up with what’s projected to us through such narratives, leading us to believe true love is nothing more than a fable.
But then again, maybe there is a hint of truth in all those fairy tales. Perhaps we just haven’t been listening to the right story. What if true love really exists and we could know, once and for all, what it really is?
Join us this Sunday for the answer to this universal question. We’ll be continuing our sermon series, “Words to Live By: Being Shaped By God’s Vocabulary.” In this series, we’ve been focused on getting behind the English translation of key words in their original biblical language in order to grasp the deeper meaning of essential elements of our faith.
Love is one such word. In Hebrew, love is “ahava.” The parallel word to “ahava” in biblical Greek is “agape.” Both words appear countless times in the scriptures. Both words convey so much more than what we settle for in our secular definition of love.
Tina Turner posed the memorable question, “What’s love got to do with it?” and this Sunday, I’m going to share with you, Yahweh’s answer. Be prepared. Get excited. Deep waters are ahead for us. As we explore the contours of what love is according to Yahweh, we won’t be just splashing around in puddles. Together we will be wading into an endless ocean – a revelation of love – too powerful and mysterious to be fully defined or grasped by any of us. Our goal is to catch the wave of this love that raises our expectations as it subverts our paradigms and to ride it, by letting all our expressions of devotion flow out of its source – Yahweh Himself.
Grace to you!