I love you, and because I love you, I’m going to talk about love.
You don’t get love. Our culture doesn’t let you get love, because our culture doesn’t get love. There are a ton of sayings about love, Love makes the world go round, the love of money is the root of all evil, and God is love. All these things have one thing in common, the word love. Other than that, these are all different expressions of love. We have a uniform idea of love, that doesn’t fit reality. We think that love and kindness are synonymous, but they are two distinct realities, wholly separate from each other.
The concept of love is more closely related to truth than it is with kindness. Jesus commands us to love our neighbor, but he calls the Pharisees a “brood of vipers.” Jesus was, also, pretty brusque with the woman at the well. From what the Bible shows, Jesus wasn’t particularly gentle in his teachings or his interaction with his friends. Sure, he healed, he preformed miracles, and he gave people huge compliments, but he didn’t express his teachings gently.
My beef with the popular concept of love is that love and kindness can be replaced 100% of the time. Popular thought has equated love with a gentle, kind demeanor, but I think that this kind of “love” is closer to hate than we’d like to admit.
Jesus rebuked, he brought forth hard teachings, he asked Peter if he even loved him, and I think this is where we can get a huge look into what it means to love like Christ. Jesus did nothing but tell the truth. He loved Peter enough to tell him that he would deny Christ three times. He loved Peter enough to ask him if he even loved him like a brother. Jesus told the woman at the wealth truth, he didn’t treat her kindly. He exposed her – laid her bare.
This makes me think that expressing love is significantly less related to kindness and overtly more related to expressing the truth. People have a hard time with biblical verses that say to expel the immoral brother, and to despise the vile man, because they have a false view of love. “Love” when replaced with kindness, and blind kindness at that, is nothing but destructive pampering.
The best example for love is the proverb where it says: “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.” This is a painful love, a love that tells the truth. I don’t think there is a stronger love, present within the confines of humanity, than the love of a parent for their child. This isn’t a cushy, kind love, either. Parents will do anything to help their children succeed.
The truest expression of love hurts. Criticism, for me, is the ultimate expression of love. This isn’t the same as everyone’s expression of love. We all express love differently, but it’s important to know how to express love effectively. Love tends to be a violent passion. Love doesn’t tend to be meek, and weak.
In 1 Cor 13:4-8 we see a comprehensive account of what love is, and I think verse 6 makes a case for this argument. Love “rejoices with the truth.” This relationship of words, this “with” implies a closeness and connectedness – a communion. Truth and love are close, and they are reinforced by kindness, in the capacity that love is forgiving, gracious, and patience. You can do someone a kindness, without being nice to them.
I mean Larry Loves his Cheeseburger, and he’s going to eat it…