It seems we spend a large portion of our energy trying to earn love. This fact is undeniable. There’s a whole genre of books, movies and songs about love. We chase after love – a feeling – but what is ‘love’? Sometimes we can focus so much on what we think love is, based on how it makes us feel, that we get caught up in ‘the doing’.
The way we have learned to understand love is through feelings of acceptance. When we seek inclusion and are accepted into a group, we feel loved. When we demonstrate our desire for a more intimate relationship with someone, and are accepted, we feel loved. And because we have learned to understand love through feelings of acceptance, we ‘do’ things to avoid feelings to the contrary.
One of my favorite quotes from the movie “Forest Gump” is when Forest questions Jenny (his love interest) about her feelings for him. He says to her “Why don’t you love me, Jenny? I’m not a smart man… but I know what love is”. Forest spent many years chasing after love from someone who had clearly accepted him despite his shortcomings. His feeling of not being loved wasn’t about what she did, or her acceptance of the things he did for her. It was something he felt on the inside, not an outward showing. Thus, it would seem that feelings of acceptance, are not the same as feelings of love.
Every human being wants to love, and be loved. We can’t help it. It’s in our nature. However, the question is – “can we ‘do’ love”?
THE ‘DOING’ OF LOVE…
Love is embedded in our being. We are made in the image and likeness of God. 1 John 4:8 from the Holy Bible states that God IS Love. Note that it does not say that God HAS love, but that He IS Love – Love is one of God’s attributes.
But is love and acceptance the same thing?
Ephesians 1:5-6 says that God LOVED us from the beginning, and in accordance with His good will planned for our adoption into His divine family through Jesus Christ, the beloved. Although we are loved, we are only accepted through Jesus Christ.
Here’s the key… although we already have human love, upon acceptance of Jesus Christ we are endowed with the Holy Spirit – a piece of God – and are then endowed with His divine love.
‘DOING’ ACCEPTANCE, OR ‘DOING’ LOVE?
It’s sad, but true… many people who attend church focus so much on not ‘doing’ anything that they believe would result in not being loved by God. The truth is that as adopted sons and daughters we are already loved, but more importantly, we are accepted. This acceptance is not based on what we do (or don’t do), but what Jesus did!
I had an “aha” moment the day I heard someone say that there is nothing I can do to make God love me less, and there is nothing I can do to make God love me more. Wow… what a relief. The day I heard (and received in my inner being) this revelation, I began to refocus my energies. I stopped trying to earn God’s love by ‘doing’ acceptance – our humanly defined outward expression of love. For me, that feeling of relief became what love feels like. It’s inside me. It’s what love is.