What Is Love? -- The World's Point-Of-View
by Bobby Bruno 2/19/2013 / Christian Apologetics
A songwriter once wrote a popular song that became a big hit for Tina Turner called "What's Love Got to Do With It?" This is a song about having a physical relationship without all of the particulars that could, one day, lead to a broken heart. When it comes to being a human being, let alone a Christian, this question of what's love got to do with it begs an answer that is satisfying to all who live on this earth. Too many people are alive today who feel that love doesn't matter anymore; that it costs too much in the way of our emotions and time to let someone take our heart only to, one day, tear it out of our chests. Yet at the same time, every inhabitant that has ever walked this planet craves love, sometimes so much so that they would do anything to get it, including paying for it, fighting for it, and, yes, even killing for it.
But is love really that elusive? Shouldn't real love be easy to find? Where does true love come from anyway? They say that God is love. What does this mean? And if God loves us so much then how come things are so bad on this planet? These kinds of questions are endless. In these next series of articles we will explore what love is, both from the world's perspective and ultimately from God's perspective. Since it was God who created the human race, wouldn't He be the best place to look for the answers we seek when it comes to love of any kind -- spiritual, physical, and emotional? How many people realize that the Bible is actually God's love letter to these beings He created? In the pages of the Bible, we find God's concept of love. His Word shows us how to love one another in every way, but especially shows us how God loves us. These articles on love will be from God's perspective -- how much He loves us, and HOW He loves us, and what gives Him the authority to dictate to us how we are to love each other.
From the past articles, we have talked about God's ultimate loving sacrifice in the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ. God loved us so much that He sent His Son to die for our sins, so that we could be free from their stain and condemnation ("For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life" -- John 3:16/(AMP).We've looked at the ways of God from the standpoints of faith and hope. Now we turn to the greatest of all of God's many attributes; the one that spurred Him on to create humanity in all its fullest, and the one that spurred Him to send us a Savior -- for God IS Love.
What is love? Notice the small "l" in love. When many people speak of love they are using the small "l" version of the word. When I say that I love ice cream, am I saying that I love my wife as much as I do cherry vanilla? Or am I saying that I really like cherry vanilla ice cream? Ice cream I should love with a small "l"; my wife I better love with a capitol "L"! The world has a funny way of overusing the word love to mean anything they really, really like. Why is that? Is it because love is too easy a word to grab out of thin air, instead of saying that we like something? Would you use the word "banana" when you really should be using the word "apple"? They may both be fruit, but they are two different things entirely. Try calling your wife or girlfriend by any other name but their own and see how fast the couch becomes your bed, that is, if she even lets you stay in the house at all.
Even the English dictionary uses words that don't quite grasp the real meaning of the word love. These words are: deep affection, fondness; affection -- goodwill, fond feeling; fond having affection or liking for; affectionate; loving; doting. The only word in this definition that I would truly call a word that describes love is deep affection. Deep affection is about the closest the human language has that barely scratches the surface of what love really is. All the rest are more "like" words than "love" words. One bible dictionary defines love as God's benevolence and mercy towards man; man's devotion or admiration towards God; and the benevolence, kindness, or brotherhood that man should rightfully feel toward others. (Other bible dictionaries go further in what love truly is, and they are from God's point of view, which we will explore in the next article.) Let's look at the secular world's reasoning of love, according to the Holy Bible.
According to many bible scholars and preachers of the Word, we are in the last days of man's rule on the earth. Only God knows when that actual last day will be, when Jesus will come again to take back what rightfully belongs to Him ("Every creature in the forest is mine, the wild animals on all the mountains. I know every mountain bird by name; the scampering field mice are my friends" -- Psalm 50:10-11/MSG), but there are many signs that let us know that this is entirely possible today. One of those signs is told about in 2 Timothy 3:1-5a. It prophetically says to: "Remember this! In the last days there will be many troubles, because people will love themselves, love money, brag, and be proud. They will say evil things against others and will not obey their parents or be thankful or be the kind of people God wants. They will not love others, will refuse to forgive, will gossip, and will not control themselves. They will be cruel, will hate what is good, will turn against their friends, and will do foolish things without thinking. They will be conceited, will love pleasure instead of God, and will act as if they serve God but will not have his power (NCV). Can you see today's world in these Scriptures? And this was written almost two thousand years ago!
We can see that true love is fading away from this world's thinking. The longer the human race exists, the more people think of only themselves. Love of self is a dangerous thing. When you love only yourself in an unhealthy way (which the world of psychology calls narcissism), you don't love or even care about another person's right to life at all. The above Scriptures show us that loving one's self is dangerous, because your self-loving nature will cause you to lose your self-control. How many people, including small children, have lost their lives to gunman who believed that no one loves them anymore? Every day, we hear on the news that another gunman (young or old) has shot and killed an innocent victim who thought they were in a place of safety. Our schools, which were once the safest places on the planet, have now become shooting galleries for those who feel that they need to remind the world that they exist and have the power to make a stand for themselves in a world they feel has forgotten them. Love of self is becoming more and more the way of life for a majority of the population of Planet Earth. Let's take a closer look at the meaning of 2 Timothy 3:1-5a and provide examples of what they teach us about the world's ever growing fascination with self.
People will be lovers of themselves.
The next time you have a conversation with a group of friends, sadly even some Christian friends, listen closely to what is talked about. How much of that conversation is filled with words about "Me, Me, Me"? Sadly, most of the time, we talk about ourselves; our opinions, our problems; our concerns; what we want; what we need; what we are not getting from the people and things that comprise our daily lives.
There used to be a time, before the 1960's ushered in the free love, "love the one you're with" culture, that people used to think of their neighbors, not as enemies, but as people just like them who sometimes asked for, and got, a needed helping hand. Nowadays, most people can't even tell you their neighbor's last name, let alone their first names. There used to be a time when no one had to lock the doors of their homes because crime just wasn't an issue. People felt safe and secure in their homes, jobs, and schools. As I mentioned above, that just isn't so anymore. Today, people close their drapes at dusk; keep their doors and windows locked all day long; and leave their alarms on, even when they are at home! Today, people all around the world look out for only themselves: Number One -- Numero Uno! Before they give, they have to get, and if you won't give it, they will take it anyway.
Let's face it: this world is giving itself over to evil more and more each day because people want what they want and it doesn't matter who they have to climb over to get it. It seems that love is losing the battle over lust for things and other people. But, this is the way the majority of the world wants it to be. People are walking around with closed fists. Not a closed fist used to knock somebody to the ground, but a closed fist that refuses to let go of what it has enclosed in it. Jesus said that to receive, we must first ask ("Here's what I'm saying: Ask and you'll get; Seek and you'll find; Knock and the door will open" -- Luke 11:9/ MSG). But, if we don't give, than how do we expect to receive? It seems to me that if we don't give, and we don't receive, than the only way to get anything is to take it for ourselves. Is this what we want to teach our children; that everything they need they can just take from others? Unfortunately, that is just what we are teaching them.
Violent crime is steadily on the rise in most countries, be it by gun, bomb, or just plain old physical fighting. Only a turn to Jesus will stop this evil from happening. But, since a great majority of the world's population doesn't want to even hear the name of Jesus, how can we expect things to change for the good of man? History has shown us time and time again that man cannot change anything until man is changed. Only Jesus Christ can change the souls of man in a lasting way that would allow all of humanity to love one another and to get along with one another. From the world's point of view Jesus is dead. How unfortunate that some will not believe the truth even when it hits them right between the eyes. Three billion Christians can't be wrong when people see their changed lives from people who used to do evil, to people who now want to change the world for the good of all nations and people, and who now see the world from the Creator's eyes.
People will love money.
Jesus once said that you cannot serve both God and money because you will hate the one and love the other ("You can't worship two gods at once. Loving one god, you'll end up hating the other. Adoration of one feeds contempt for the other. You can't worship God and Money both" -- Matthew 6:24 (MSG). Those who become a slave to money will spend a great portion of their time going after it and will step on whomever they have to so that they can gain more and more. It is no lie that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, simply because some of the rich, not all, refuse to open up their hands to help others, unless it benefits them in some way (meaning: getting more money).
The world has it wrong when they say that money is the root of all evil. The Bible says that ("For the love of money is a root of all evils; it is through this craving that some have been led astray and have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves through with many acute [mental] pangs" -- 1 Timothy 6:10/AMP). It is the love of money that creates all kinds of evil. Money in itself is not evil. How can an inanimate object with no life in it be evil? Just like guns, money is only considered evil when it is used and misused for evil purposes. "If you have money", the world says, "great; but, if you don't, tough luck! If you didn't work to get some of your own, then don't expect to get it from me." The Bible also says what happens when we refuse to give some of what we have to others. Jesus taught a parable that shows just what is required of those who have the ability to help others, but decides to keep all that they have for themselves: "Then he told them this story: "The farm of a certain rich man produced a terrific crop. He talked to himself: 'What can I do? My barn isn't big enough for this harvest.' Then he said, 'Here's what I'll do: I'll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I'll gather in all my grain and goods, and I'll say to myself, Self, you've done well! You've got it made and can now retire. Take it easy and have the time of your life!' "Just then God showed up and said, 'Fool! Tonight you die. And your barnful of goodswho gets it?' "That's what happens when you fill your barn with Self and not with God" (Luke 12:16-21 (MSG).
How many people lie on their taxes each year, hoping that the IRS won't catch their little "indiscretion"? How many people refuse to tip a waitress who makes below minimum wage believing that she is only doing her job? In today's culture, with jobs being scarce, and payrolls being cut, it is too easy to hold on to what you have because you might need it in the future. But, as the Apostle Paul said, " I want each of you to take plenty of time to think it over, and make up your own mind what you will give. That will protect you against sob stories and arm-twisting. God loves it when the giver delights in the giving" (2 Corinthians 9:7 (MSG). Giving makes us happy. Giving makes us feel as if we are helping to contribute to the welfare of another human being. We must give first before we can receive.
Remember Scrooge? The more he held onto his riches, the more miserable he grew, until, in his old age, no one wanted to be his friend, or even his acquaintance. Scrooge held onto his money with a closed fist. Even Bob Crachett felt the sting of his uncle's miserly ways. This is the way the world is today. More and more people are becoming discouraged because no one seems to want to help these days. Depression is at an all-time high because people are feeling abandoned by their jobs, their government, their cities, their families. Some couples divorce because there is too much strife and tension over the amount of money being made, the handling of it, and who makes more than the other. Too many people make money the priority of their lives, spending countless hours away from their family, causing the marriage and family relations to crumble. Just as a tree has many roots to sustain it, money is just one of the roots of evil uses to sustain itself, and it also seems to be the one with the most power these days.
People will be disobedient.
Ever since Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden, disobedience has been running rampant all around the globe. Children disobey their parents in every way they can; too many people disobey the laws that are designed to keep them safe; the government disobeys the Constitution of the United States and changes the meaning of the words contained in to fit their agenda for the American public; and every second of every day countless billions disobey the laws and precepts that God has laid down in the Bible to keep us safe and to know Him better.
Why are we disobedient people? Because we are sinful people who think that we know better than God and everyone else how we should live our lives. Pride is the number one factor in all disobedience. We feel as if we should be allowed to live our lives the way we want to, no matter who tells us we shouldn't, even if that someone is God. God created the world and everything in it. He alone has the right to tell us how we are to conduct our lives, what we are allowed to do or not do. Many people think that God's rules will keep them from having any fun. But, if they looked closer at the laws and precepts God has laid down for us, we would see that all of His "rules", if you want to call them that, are designed to protect us, not to harm us.
When we disobey the "rules" of God, we always find ourselves in some form of suffering. Here are some examples of why this is true. In the Bible, in the Book of Matthew, God tells us that sex is to be enjoyed only in marriage between a man and a woman ("Because God created this organic union of the two sexes, no one should desecrate his art by cutting them apart" -- Matthew 19:6/MSG). But what does it say about what happens to those who engage in sex outside of marriage? In Job 36:14 the scriptures say that "Living it up in sexual excesses, virility wasted, they die young" (MSG). Is it any wonder that those who have multiple partners end up contracting an STD? According to Life123.com, it is estimated that there are approximately seven million STD related deaths per year, and of that number 1.8 million are AIDS related deaths. The majority of these deaths are people between the ages of 18-42. Because of the world's lust for sexual pleasures many die young, as the scripture above tells us. God did not put that scripture in the Bible as a suggestion, He put it there as a warning. The more we ignore the warnings from God, the more we disobey, then the more suffering and death we bring upon ourselves. Disobedience can kill you. The biggest question we must all ask ourselves is: do we listen to God and have eternal life, or do we continue to disobey Him in every way and continue to bring upon ourselves an early death? Is the momentary pleasure really worth your life? You decide.
They will not love others.
Verse three of 2 Timothy, chapter three, tells us that people will say evil things against others; will be unthankful; will refuse to forgive others their offenses and will not control themselves; will turn against their friends; do foolish things without thinking; and will be conceited. It always amazes me how much the Bible speaks to our generation, and it was written almost two thousand years ago! Could these verses speak any louder about how little love there actually is in the world today? All we have to do is turn on the television to find all of these above issues portrayed in one way or another in one single half-hour showing of the evening news. Daily shootings occur with increasing veracity on the streets, in our schools, our homes, our places of business, and it doesn't matter how guarded or how great the security is, people will find a way to get a weapon in for the main reason of doing somebody deadly harm.
As for forgiveness, just look at the divorce rate. Fifty percent of all marriages end in divorce simply because one of the partners refuses to forgive the other, sometimes for simple little things. Adultery and domestic abuse are the main two reasons a couple divorces. The pain caused by these two issues is enormous for the partner who remained faithful to the marriage. Even God allows for divorce, but only in the case of infidelity ("I say to you: whoever dismisses (repudiates, divorces) his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a divorced woman commits adultery" -- Matthew 19:9/AMP). Even then He expects the injured partner to forgive the other if he/she is willing to work on facing the issues that may have caused the infidelity in the first place. If more people would forgive others their offenses, we would see ourselves becoming more like God who forgives everyone their sins if they ask Him to.
There is a myth going around the world and it is getting in the way of human relationships. This myth is a lie. Just ask any wife when a husband has hurt her in any way, or a wife has caused her husband some kind of pain. This myth came out of an American movie entitled "Love Story"; a story of a woman dying of cancer, and the relationship she had with a man who never left her side. The slogan for this movie sounds true, reasonable, and very poetic, but living by it will wreck your relationships faster than you can say "Flowers and candy." That myth is: "Love means never having to say you're sorry."
If you believe this myth to be true, then I dare you not to apologize to your wife the next time you hurt her in some way. Let's see if your unending love for her will keep you off the couch tonight. As we will see later from God's point of view, saying you're sorry is a very important part of any true, lasting relationship. Especially with any relationship you choose to have with God.
They will love pleasure instead of God.
Not much needs to be said about this verse in 2 Timothy 3. People are looking for pleasure everywhere they go. If it's not pleasurable, they will not do it. This is why sexual relations outside of marriage are being conducted all over the planet, by the married and unmarried alike. This is also why most people won't push up their shirt sleeves to help those in need, especially if it means cleaning up after a nursing-home bound senior citizen. The dirtier the job to be done without some kind of compensation, the less of a desire they will have to help do it. Millions of people will not lift a finger unless it benefits them in some way, shape, or form. It all comes back to "Me, Me, Me!"
They will serve without the Holy Spirit
Lastly, 2 Timothy 3:5a tells us that people "will act as if they serve God but will not have his power." There are many people in the world today who a doing great and wonderful things for others. They are helping the poor children of many nations; they are helping the sick, the injured, and the helpless; they are feeding the homeless and bringing them blankets, medicine and companionship. Unfortunately, as this scripture tells us, many are doing this without God's power. If you have never taken Jesus as your Lord and Savior then God's Holy Spirit isn't in you ("Jesus answered him, I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, that unless a person is born again (anew, from above), he cannot ever see (know, be acquainted with, and experience) the kingdom of God" -- John 3:3/AMP). If this is so, then all that you have done in the name of good does not impress God, for Jesus said in the Book of Matthew "Many will say to Me on that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name and driven out demons in Your name and done many mighty works in Your name? And then I will say to them openly (publicly), I never knew you; depart from Me, you who act wickedly [disregarding My commands]" -- 7:22-23/AMP). If God's Holy Spirit does not reside in your soul, then every good you do will be for selfish reasons, even if you don't realize it.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of people in this world who preach in the name of Jesus, but do not know Jesus as Lord and Savior. In 1978, Jim Jones claimed he was Jesus Christ and Buddha. When a "deal" with the Soviet Union fell through, Jones convinced his followers that the Soviets would kill them all and that they should kill themselves before the Soviets did. 909 people died, including children after they all drank cyanide laced Kool-aid. In 1993, David Koresh (Branch Davidian Religion) proclaimed himself to be the last prophet from God. When government officials (the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) surrounded his complex in Waco, Texas, he burned it down, with all of his followers inside. Shortly thereafter, he shot himself before he could be taken.
These are two extreme cases, but they happen more than we hear. Without the Holy Spirit, many people are led astray to follow those who sound righteous and holy, but are nothing more than wolves in sheep's clothing. There are many psychics who believe that they are working for or helping God, but they, too, have been led astray, for the scriptures say they are working for the devil, as King Saul once found out (2 Samuel 28:7-25). Unless people proclaim Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, and show signs of being truly born again, they are not to be believed.
I never have enough and I soon grow tired of what I have.
When you bought that beautiful new sports car, how long did it take before that car became nothing more than just a vehicle that got you from A to B? How soon before you stopped washing it every weekend, even in the winter with its salt and dirty snow? It seems that the more we have, the more we want. We are never satisfied with what we have because something new always shows up in the mall to replace the old. How well can you identify with this verse from the Book of Ecclesiastes 1:8 "Everything is so weary and tiresome! No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content" (1:8/NLT).
What is it we are longing for that we are trying to fill the hunger in our soul with stuff? We tell ourselves that we must have the biggest flat-screen television, the best steak, the most expensive home we can afford. When is having enough enough? If the world could only look past their pocketbooks, and look into their hearts, they would see that the hole in their souls can only be filled by God. This longing we feel will only go away when we make Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Yes, God gave man the ability to create all the things he has created over time, but it is not God who made all of these things a priority in our lives. Man did. God has not made the material stuff we desire and crave gods in our lives. Man did. And God has not given us a craving to have more stuff. Man did that all on his own when he decided that the one, true God of the universe was not enough.
The things of the world do not come from God.
Finally, when Adam and Eve disobeyed God they opened up a God sized hole in our souls because they had told God that they didn't need Him to run their lives anymore. So, God took His Spirit out of man, and man has been looking for an alternative to fill that hole since. To finish this article, I will let the words of 1 John speak for the world's point-of-view: "Do not love or cherish the world or the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world the lust of the flesh [craving for sensual gratification] and the lust of the eyes [greedy longings of the mind] and the pride of life [assurance in one's own resources or in the stability of earthly things]these do not come from the Father but are from the world [itself]. And the world passes away and disappears, and with it the forbidden cravings (the passionate desires, the lust) of it; but he who does the will of God and carries out His purposes in his life abides (remains) forever" (2:15-17/AMP).
Scripture quotations marked (AMP) are taken from the Holy Bible: Amplified Version. Copyright 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987. Used by permission of The Lockman Foundation. Database 2008 WORDsearch Corp.
"Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group."
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.
Copyright 2013 by Robert W. Bruno
Bobby Bruno was saved 14 years ago in a way that left him no doubt that Jesus wanted him to reach others with His great and abounding love. He started writing at the age of 12 and hasn't stopped since.