What love looks like2
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.
- 1 John 3:16a
How do we know what love is?
It isn’t through our wisdom or insight.
It isn’t through our education or study.
It isn’t through our church participation.
It isn’t through anything that has to do with us.
At least, not exactly.
We know what love is because Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. Our contribution to this revelation is that we are the recipients, the objects of his mercy. We know what love is because of Jesus Christ.
Our love-relationship with God isn’t based on our feelings; it’s based on our history. Before you were born Jesus Christ did something for you. He did it before you could even ask for it, before you knew you needed it, and before you could object or try to stop him. His life poured from him and floods all of history: your personal history, the history of our community, every square inch of the cosmos.
We can pause our headlong rush into the future, turn around, and see what love looks like. The perfect image of love waits for us in the past. The clearest picture of love isn’t buried in some corner of the future or hiding in some region of the present. You can see love as easily as you can see your own shadow … if you’ll look.
John doesn’t give us a definition of love. He gives us a story, a story in just a handful of words, the greatest story ever told. Apart from that story, we’ll flail around looking for love in all the wrong places, defining love in dangerous ways, and letting love slip past our waking-sleeping faces.
Take some time today to try this spiritual exercise …
Find a relaxing posture and breathe deeply and slowly for a moment. Allow your mind and imagination to wander toward Jesus. What stories of Jesus, what images of him, what words come to mind? What can you learn about love from your image of Jesus?