The subject of love is one of the most difficult and profound of themes. Whenever we think of love, we equally think of God, because ‘God is love’. Love has always been the character of God, and it is a mistake to think that the God of the Old Testament could not be described in this way. One of the most moving testimonies to God’s love in the whole Bible is by the prophet Hosea. God’s love was the reason why he chose and cared for the people of Israel. In return, God’s people were expected to love Him with their whole being, and show a similar love to their fellow men.
In the New Testament, the word ‘love’ is sometimes translated in the usual Greek word, philia. This means ‘intimate affection’. Far more important, however, is the word agape. This is not a sex word, although the Bible regards sex very highly. Agape is used to describe self-giving love, seen above all in Jesus Christ. It is in His death that we see the true depths of this love. It is far greater than human love. It is the love that unites the Father and the Son. It is the love that God has for the world, and it becomes part of a Christian’s life through the gift of God. It is in fact the mark of God’s presence in the life of every Christian. Jesus says, “If you have love for one another, then everyone will know that you are my disciples”.
This statement of Jesus brings out the true meaning of love, which reminds us of two things: happiness and suffering. Sometimes it sounds so strange to me that “love” which is the source of the greatest happiness, should as well, be the cause of the most intense suffering. Having love for one another is not as easy as we think. It involves everything about us – our whole selves – always ready to give out that which we have. This is because our life on earth is such that suffering is always involved, for love seeks to save the object of its love, by means of suffering or sacrifice. Love gains its end and attains its highest happiness through self-less sacrifice.
Therefore, being in love, means to suffer for the one you love, that is, to truly offer yourself to protect and suffer for someone else. The love the Almighty God had for His children could not achieve its purpose without suffering. By means of His sufferings, Christ bore and overcame the sins of the whole world, and the hard heart of man was melted and drawn back to God. This however tells us that love in the midst of suffering manifests the greatest glory, and attains its end perfectly.
Love that is worthy of its name manifests itself in a life of continued self sacrifice. Its strength lies in the renunciation. When the Bible asks us a soul-searching question whether a mother can forget her own child, it is always a quick reminder to all of us that no matter what happens, no mother can allow her child the trauma of abandonment. Recall how mothers suffer whenever their beloved children fall sick, or fall into evil ways. Being in love is explained in what one undergoes when one yields oneself wholeheartedly to work and pray for others.
Initially, the task may be burdensome, with tears and heartache, but love helps in overcoming the obstacles. Love gives one the courage and strength to endure. To be in love however means, having ones dwelling place, in God. Our unreserved surrender to always seek the glory of God in the salvation of our fellow-men is rooted in love, without which, there could be no real relationship. The Bible entreats us to walk in love as Christ who loves us did and gave Himself for us (Ephesians 5:2). It further says: “He that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him”.