In the midst of conflict, controversy, and chaos, it is often said that all the world needs is love. The statement is as true as any can be. The issue comes in the interpretation of the statement. The definition of love has been hijacked to refer to something that really isn’t love at all. Any definition of love that is devoid of God cannot be true love. Instead we must seek to live a lifestyle of love displayed in our interactions with others.
First, we must recognize that love is not defined by men, but instead is defined by God. Furthermore, love is not a description of God but instead God is a description of love. We cannot separate love from God, because then it ceases to be true love.
In fact, in light of J.I. Packer’s earlier thoughts on idolatry, I would say that a definition of love that does not include God is idolatry. To define God by love rather than define love by God obscures the image of God. We see this in a world that is quick to worship love as a god, but slow to worship God who is the embodiment of love.
We must stop allowing the world to define love for us and then force us to live by that definition. Instead of pleasing the world we must be concerned with pleasing God. In that way then, we live a life of love that is consistent with the God who is love. As love dwells in us, love is displayed through us. Praise God for using us as His vessels to do so and make we take great responsibility in that.
Perhaps the greatest difficulty for us Christians though is not understanding the need to live a lifestyle of love, but its the follow through of actually doing it is where we seem to struggle. And maybe that’s just me. I know that personally I can talk about it, I can teach about it, and I can disciple it, but sometimes actually living it out in my life is not always as reflective of God as it should be. So what do we do?
There are many things we can talk about, such as reading your Bible, being consistent in your relationship with God, and even making sure you are fixated on Christ. But J.I. Packer offers some insight into this in the previous chapter that is worth noting. What role does the Holy Spirit play here? He is correct that so many people are seeking the extraordinary role of the Holy Spirit at the expense of ignoring the ordinary role. In living a life of love, we see three aspects of the Holy Spirit’s role here:
Convicting: The Holy Spirit convicts people of their sin (John 16:8) In regards to living in love and loving others through that, it is He who will convict us when we fail to do this.
Convincing: Not only must He convict us of our sin, but the Holy Spirit must convince us of our need to change towards Christlikeness. He is the Spirit of Truth and thus teaches truth (John 14:16-17). It is that truth alone, the truth from God, that will convince us to change.
Compelling: Finally, after convincing us of the need to change from our sinfulness in lack of love, He must compel us to move forward in action. Jesus Christ asserted that if His disciples had faith in Him they would continue to do what He had been doing (John 14:12). However, the power to do so seemed to be dependent upon His leaving and the Holy Spirit’s coming (John 16:8). Thus, the Holy Spirit compels believers to walk in the same way Christ did, in love by loving others.
I can’t help but think that if we truly knew love, we would love. As we know God more and more, it is hard to not be overwhelmed about who He is, who we are, and who we are in relationship with Him. As God displayed His love to us, how can we not be moved to love Him? Furthermore, how can we not be moved to love others for Him? True love comes from the true God. As we live it out in our lives, love will leave an impact on others and it will leave an impression for God. Indeed, love will last.