I watched a show recently that really troubled me. It was a love story. It was not filled with explicit material or violence. It was worse than that. It was beautiful. It was sweet. It pulled at my heart. And it was deadly. It was so subtly permeated with the spirit of this age that without really stepping back and stripping away the music and lights, one would be left with the feeling that this was good…that these characters needed to be together for it to have that happy ending.
Our culture is serving us up incessant storylines of “love” that involve two people meeting, and just knowing that they are supposed to be together. They can’t fight it. And they spend the rest of the movie overcoming every obstacle that stands between them and their happy ending. And sometimes that obstacle is the fact that they are already married. But what is a marriage vow when held up against the force of nature that we call falling in love? Not much, apparently.
This is tragic. It is tragic that we have redefined what love is and then elevated that thing that we have created to the level of God in our culture. If you listen to music or watch tv or movies, you quickly pick up on the fact that the most important thing in all of life is love. It is this one person that will make you happy, that makes the colors brighter in your world and makes the music swell and the end credits roll. Our hearts respond to that. Happily ever after. That sounds good, right? Except for the fact that is it not true. Except for the fact that we are being lied to. Because another person will not, can not make you happy.
Because genuine love does not always feel good. Authentic love does not always make you feel happy. Not real love. Paul Tripp defines love as “willing self-sacrifice for the good of another that does not demand reciprocation or that the person being loved is worthy.” I think that Jesus would define love the same way. “There is no greater love than this: that a person would lay down his life for the sake of his friends.” Jn 15:13. To love is to lay down your life. It is sacrifice, not selfishness. Our culture absolutely glorifies this distortion of love and raises it as the standard for our happiness, but in reality it is the exact opposite of love that we are serving. It is selfishness. It is a relentless pursuit of whatever makes us feel good at that particular moment, or gives us something that we want. Remember the leading man in our storyline? There was a time when his first wife was the object of his desire too, but now she has been discarded. Why? Because she was in the way of his real love. Not lady #2, but himself. He is deeply in love with himself, with his own pleasure and happiness, and in light of that depraved selfishness that we are calling love, everything else is expendable, even the bride of your covenant. And we are supposed to celebrate that, and call that love. No. I refuse. I utterly reject this. I reject it because I have seen what love is. It looks less like a man chasing his pleasure and more like a man staggering under the weight of a cross. A cross that He carried not for Himself, but for His bride. For love. And out of that love, that real love, we are awakened to love others the same way. And that same kind of love is unleashed through us because we are one with the Source of it. That is why Jesus said “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” This is what sets us apart. This love that we walk in that this world cannot fathom. And it looks nothing like the movies. It looks like a 50th wedding anniversary, and side by side burial plots they bought 50 years ago because, “till death do us part.” It looks like a young dad awake for hours in the night feeding the infant so that his weary wife can sleep. It looks like a woman fighting for her marriage though her heart has been broken and believing for the future because God’s love is stronger, even than this. It looks like a man averting his eyes when that one women tries to catch his gaze because he has determined to relentlessly fight for his marriage, even if he is fighting against the desires of his own heart.
It looks like one of the most powerful love stories of our lifetime. Ken Tada, a man who loved and married a quadriplegic woman who from day one would never be able to move from the neck down. They have been married for decades. He has literally carried her, fed her, clothed and sheltered her through most of her life. Why would anyone do that? Because that is love. Willing self-sacrifice for the good of another that does not demand reciprocation or that the person being loved is worthy. How can we love that way? Because we have been loved that way. Jesus willingly sacrificed Himself for our good, though we could never repay Him and never deserve it. And from the new heart His love has given us, we are empowered to love that same way. And this world has never seen anything like it. It is real. It is love. It is Jesus.
*My blogs are written with the assumption that they are being read primarily by Christians. If you want to know more about what it means to be a Christian or about the gospel of Jesus Christ, click the link here:The Gospel