Thursday, February 5, 2009

It's all about love

It's February, which means that commercialized season of love. Valentine's Day is just around the corner, and Robert Hruzek over at has launched his latest writing challenge, "What I Learned from...Love" this week. Click on over to the Middle Zone to check out some other thoughts once you are finished reading my take on experiencing grace and peace through the topic of love.

It's all about love, this life we are living. This life is about loving our spouses, loving our kids, loving our neighbors, loving our "framily" and friends, and loving people to Jesus.

Much of what I have learned about love can be attributed to two recording artists. My life has been much like a two-act play to date. The first act looking a lot like a tune recorded by Tina Turner called "What's love got to do with it?" The second act, I pray, is looking a lot more like the Steven Curtis Chapman recording, "It's All About Love."

Love is a tough word to define, isn't it? We fall into love, we love things, love is a feeling, an emotion, a commitment. Huh?!?!

In those days when I lived life wondering "what's love got to do with it" I often played this silly little game in my head. Remember, I am 6-5, 475 (exaggerated for effect), so the thought of me plucking petals from a daisy thinking "He loves me, He loves me not" might be pretty amusing.

I dare say we probably all played this game at one time or another, though. You know the drill - I helped that woman across the street the other day (he loves me); I told a lie (he loves me not). I taught Sunday School this week (he loves me); I yelled at my kids again (he loves me not). You get the picture.

This isn't really what Christ's love is supposed to look like, but for many who don't grasp grace and peace, it has a pretty strong hold.

But as Christ grabbed hold of my life, he began to explain to me and to show me what love looks like. THE good news, John 3:16, reads this way: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life."

As experiencing grace and peace has overtaken my life, those numbers of hope (3:16) mean everything as God so loved the world (and everyone and everything in it) that he willingly sent his son to this earth with the sole purpose of redeeming us from this fallen, broken, messed-up world.

What is love? In the Greek, Agapao (verb) and agape (noun) is the Christian love of the Bible. It means affection, benevolence, good-will, high esteem and concern for the welfare of the one loved. It is deliberate, purposeful love rather than the emotional or impulsive love most of us are familiar with. Agape love is a brotherly or sisterly love that is the kind of unconditional love that comes when a child is born. There isn't anything a baby does to receive love - to earn love - rather affection and high esteem come naturally to us.

As I move away from Tina's thoughts of love being a "second hand emotion," John 13:34 speaks to my heart. "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another."

Stop and chew on that for a second (pause). As Jesus Christ gave up his life for me and for you, we are supposed to give up our lives for others. As I contemplate this passage it becomes clear to me that we are to love in every aspect of life. If I truly get 3:16 and 13:34 then I will love people with all of my heart in every way imaginable.

I Peter 4:8 from the Message continues the theme: "Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything."

Love each as if my life depended upon it? Really, Jesus?

Am I really supposed to do that? My shallow, narrow little mind raises points like: "I know too much about that person to love him; I know how they are; I know who they hang with; I know what they did. Besides, how can I do that? Do I really have to make enough time to get to know someone well enough to like them, let alone love them?"

Living into the scriptures is everyone's battle, isn't it? We don't love because we have to obey the law, but rather we love out of this deep love and appreciation for all that Christ has done for us.

Read these words from I John 3:16-18: "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 one another. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need, but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue, but with actions and in truth."

I John 4:7-11 reads like this: "Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another."

Love. We who follow Christ have learned that we love because he first loved us. And if we say "I love God," and yet hate our neighbors, the Bible calls us liars.

Love. I John 4 tells us that God is love, which leads me back to Tina Turner and her hit song. Tina poses the question, "What's love got to do with it?" She calls it a second hand emotion.

If you and I can agree that I John 4 says that God is love, isn't Tina Turner really asking "What's God got to do with it?"

This tour through scripture would tell us that with God, "It's All About Love."

I have seen love first hand, acts of agape love that are carried out in this world - sometimes simply because God first loved us and because of what Jesus did on that cross. How can you show love to someone around you?

Perhaps when someone is hurting and has nowhere else to go, you listen to them and pray with them. That's love.

Perhaps someone needs their sidewalk shoveled or their lawn mowed, and you do it for free!?! That's love.

Maybe someone needs a lift somewhere and you give them one!?! That's love.

Perhaps you write a note, send an email, make a phone call - you fill in the blank!

Experiencing grace and peace in this life has come in many forms for me - the greatest being love. Love of my God who could've turned his back on me. Love of my wife, family and friends in the toughest of times and in the best of times.

That love has transformed my life, has put love in my heart for God, his Word and a desire to proclaim it that I have a hard time containing. For me, it's all about love!

Check this Jeremy Camp song out - this is the result of what I am experiencing right here, right now!


janelle said...

Powerful message! It's not always easy to love the people we love; much less the ones we don't love(does that make sense to you?).

You would think that since God brings it up so many times that I would work harder at loving people; but for so many reasons(excuses), I don't. I need this reminder.

Kay Martin said...

Agape Love...Christ's love coming through us is the amazing love. I have actually been priviledge to love someone deeply while they were not returning it or honoring me. In that unbelieveably painful place I witnessed the power and presence of Almighty God as I have never known before. The results of that love pouring out were nothing less than eternally miraculous.

Didn't Jesus say anyone can love people who return the love and treat us well? Love's test is in the hard times.

Billy Coffey said...

Great post, Chris. And you're right, this life we're living really is all about love. Giving it, returning it, and showing it. And allowing ourselves to fee the very love we don't think we deserve.

Jennifer said...

Great post, as usual, Chris. You show love in your every-day, walking-around life. Like last night ... as we stood before God at the Jeremy Camp concert. There you were, sharing God's love with my husband at a tender moment. Glad to be in your "framily."

Chris Godfredsen said...

That, Jennifer, is my pleasure. So many people have poured their hearts into our lives - shown us Christ's love - that it has become all-consuming.

And yeah, Billy, feeling the very love we don't feel we deserve...that is the perpetual battle, isn't it?

Be blessed today, y'all!

Anonymous said...

Excellent post! I just did two posts on Love as well. I thoroughly enjoyed and my heart resonates with your words descibing Love, your examples and thoughts.

~Amy :)
Walking In The Spirit

Steph said...

Great post, Chris! I want to encourage you to use some of your posts as editorials in the paper! They are so good - let the whole world know! You are an amazing writer and an awesome witness for the Almighty!

Matt @ The Church of No People said...

I think my big problem with keeping up with love is that it's highly inconvenient. It interrupts my schedule and promises little in return, unless I'm tuned into the rewards love has.

Anonymous said...

Chris, Loved your is so hard sometimes to love as Jesus loved. It overwhelms me that he gave it all up, his life included, for others. It is something I strive for every day but as your post reflects, when picking off the petals of the daisy, often fail at. Although I am learning to forgive myself and move on to become the person I want to be in living the walk of Jesus. I know with Him and His love, anything is possible and love will prevail in the end.