Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: LOVE (agape and/or phileo) (03/12/15)
TITLE: Are We Loving as Christ Commands?
By Shannon Coday
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There are so many definitions for what constitutes love, both traditional and instinctual. We as humans often create our own perception of what love means to us. We’ve seen love for money, love for things, and love of self control our thoughts and desires.
We’ve seen young women blow up the internet by telling others that love is when your significant other physically and verbally abuses you. We’ve witnessed love of self create superhuman monoliths to health and wellness. We’ve watched as love of this world has turned hearts cold. All of these examples of “love” bastardize the beauty and perfection of the creation of this emotion by a heavenly Father.
I Corinthians 13:1-8 (KJV) obviously defines love for us from God’s perspective. It is used in countless wedding ceremonies to remind couples how the Lord expects a man and woman to love one another, but then the honeymoon ends. The words become distant platitudes of encouragement rather than commandments. Daily life, children, work, finances, all begin to overwhelm the traditional and instinctual understandings of love we’ve been taught. Most of our stories are brought full-circle through love, often experienced over a lifetime. They offer the best definitions. Here is one.
My husband and I married almost twenty-eight years ago, after dating for about six months, when I became pregnant. I was in love. My husband was handsome, a hard worker, and didn’t try to curb my outrageous personality. He was raised in a Christian home and that was good enough for me. We had some serious moments of doubt and disagreement in our marriage, moments when we'd call on the name of the Lord, but never kept Christ in the center once the crisis passed. So twenty-seven years later, when the children were gone and it was just my husband and I the Lord began His work.
The Lord brought to light a secret my husband thought he had hidden away in the darkness. He’d had an affair. Oddly enough this was a life-stopping fear of mine. When the Lord brought it into the light I was devastated. I wanted to run, I wanted to hurt him. I wanted everything to stop. I believed I could never love him again, that he’d stolen everything we’d built. I felt my life was a complete and utter lie… and in this dark place, in the hole of my despair, the Lord taught me about love.
He spoke into my heart. He questioned my beliefs. He asked me after all he’d done and forgiven in me, if I could find forgiveness and love, His love, for my husband. My immediate reaction was “Lord, you forgive him, and then punish him, and then I will love him again.”
His response was quiet, not blaming or shaming. “You said you’d love him through it all. You made a vow before me. Did I not love you through all your brokenness? He is broken, and He needs to see my love through you. Can you do it as you promised you would?”
I did not want to. I did not want to! In obedience however, to my Lord, my God, my Salvation, I stayed, I worked, I cried, I hurt…and I loved my husband. Slowly but surely the Lord began to mend hurts in my husband he’d buried so deep that in a different time, he would have denied them vehemently. I watched my husband through my love and forgiveness and the Lord’s guiding hand become a man of God I’d never imagined!
Christ commands that we love one another. Not when its easy! Anyone can love when its easy. It is in our dark times when we turn to the author and finisher of our faith that we find the true love of Christ and where we learn to share that love with others.
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