I have a love-hate relationship with Hollywood’s portrayal of love. While I know it’s problematic because it’s portrayed as something easy, completely based on a feeling, and as a matter of chance, the hopeless romantic in me can’t help but be drawn to it. Unfortunately, for a lot of us the latter wins out, and for this reason, the world has an incorrect expectation of what love is.
Worldly love is conditional. It is tied to outcomes and it is fleeting. So many of us, Christians included, are chasing this type of love but the reality of the situation is, it’s not really God’s version of love at all.
“Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.” – 1 John 4:11-12 (NLT)
The part I’m most interested in is not that we “ought to” love others; that’s a given. The part I’m most interested in is that last part. The Bible says that if we love each other the way God loves, his love is brought to full expression in us. In other words, we get a front row seat to experience a taste of God’s love for us.
A lot of us are like, “Yes! Sign me up for that! I want to fully experience God’s love!” Problem is, I don’t think we realize what we are signing up for because God’s brand of love is work. God’s brand of love is sacrificial; it puts needs of others before self. God’s brand of love is enduring even when it’s hard. God’s brand of love is unconditional; it constantly forgives. Loving like God is not easy and one of the reasons for this is because it can hurt.
God loves fully flawed humans unconditionally and sacrifices for us – neither of which we deserve. When we do that for others, we get a taste of what it’s like for God to love us, and it’s not rainbows and butterflies. Whenever I’ve tried to love like God in this way, it’s hurt my heart greatly because often the other party doesn’t really “deserve” it. But that’s the point isn’t it? Love isn’t like the movies; it’s hard and it hurts.
I think part of the reason we see God when we truly love others is because of how we get a glimpse into His heart for us. We get to see first-hand what it’s like for God when we “let Him down” because we are flawed. We get to see first-hand that even though we definitely do not deserve it, God chooses to love us anyway. We get a fuller understanding of God’s love for us because we get to experience the other side of it: the giving side. This understanding of love helps us, and others, to see God, and for this reason alone, the work is worth it.
Megan French is the Central Middle School Director for the Life Church. Her other day job is teaching 8th grade English at Ronald Reagan Middle School. She is passionate about reading, writing, and boy bands.
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