You Keep Using that Word
In John, Jesus prayed: “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.”
I want to focus on this last part- where Jesus says to God the Father- “You loved me before the creation of the world.”
Press pause in your mind, and think about that. Before the world was created. Let your mind go there… before the universe existed, no planet, no people, no animals, no stars, not even empty space. Was there anything there? Before the creation of the world?
Yes, there was God, God the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit.
And there was Love.
Within the Triune God, before the creation of the world, Jesus was loved by the Father.
God is love. This is who God is, and his love is eternal.
Contrast that with one of the most commonly Googled questions ever:
“What is love?”
There was love before the foundation of the world within the happy triune God,
Yet here we are, asking the internet “What is love?”
There is something broken in our society, in the human heart, that we don’t understand this eternal concept.
Its not that we do not want it.
Love is universally thought of as a good thing, something we should all strive for, and everyone likes to claim it. In fact, the word “love” is so valued that we tend to assume that whatever we are already doing falls into the category of love.
We naturally believe we are on the side of love.
Yet we’re still asking, googling “What is love?”
As An example of the confusion: Several years ago the President tweeted “love is love… retweet if you agree”.
How confusing is that?
How could anyone disagree with that? How could anyone agree with that? It doesn’t mean anything. Love is love… No it’s Not!? It’s a tautology, a self-defining sentence that tells us literally nothing.
But love is so good, we’re all like, “Well, yea love is love, I’m loving, and I love love. I love loving love. You love love, right? How could you not love loving love… you don’t love love?
Love turns into gibberish.
The word gets twisted into meaningless bumper-stickers to promote agendas, without any reference to the love that was before the creation of the world.
We hear: “Love is love.” “Love wins.” “Love makes a family.”
At some point, we have to stop and say, as Inigo Mantoya from the movie the Princess Bride once did, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
While there may be different types of love, as C.S. Lewis described in his book The Four Loves, we don’t get to just bend the definition of love to simply describe what we happen to be fond of doing at the time, to our own fickle deceitful feelings.
The Bible says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick.” Jeremiah 17:9
The Bible tells us very clearly what love is, and is not.
His love is eternal, before the creation of the world.
God is the Fountain head of all love and therefore, He alone gets to define it.
And Praise God, He doesn’t just define love, He personifies it.
God doesn’t just tell, God Shows.
God is love. And his love is perfectly revealed in the person of Jesus Christ.
“God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
He told us that “No greater love has a man than this: that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13
Then He called us friends, and then He laid down His life For us.
So when He tells us that the greatest commandment is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” He does not leave much room for interpretation, and he does not ask for our opinion.
He shows us Jesus: In loving God, Jesus became obedient to death, even death on a cross. In loving His neighbor, Jesus humbled Himself, taking on the very nature of a servant. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 1 Cor 13:6 Jesus is the truth and as much as our culture and our deceitful hearts would like to co-opt the word, we can’t co-opt God.
So today my exhortation to you is to learn to love by looking to Jesus. Let him be your example, your standard, and your true north. Learn to differentiate real love from counterfeits by becoming intimate with love incarnate. If our strong feelings lead us to sin against God, then they are not loving feelings. Do not be fooled into thinking that everything we call love is actually love.
As 1 John 3:16 says: “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us” and 1 John 4:10 “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us” (before the creation of the world) “and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” This reminds us of our need to repent.
Father, we confess that we do not love as you love. We are all prideful. We think so highly of ourselves that we assume we understand love, and that our natural feelings are rooted in love, but this is a great falsehood. Our hearts are deceitful, but in you there is no deceit, only love. Help us always look to Jesus to learn what perfect love is. We now repent for the ways we have failed to do this.