Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Why I Am Not a Hopeless Romantic

Don't get me wrong. I love the stuff of classic romance novels...the aloof Mr Darcy's inner torment over Elizabeth...the explosive love of Benedick and Beatrice...and the improper love of George Emerson for Lucy Honeychurch. I also love getting flowers from my husband on Valentines Day and having a candle-lit dinner once-in-a-while. But, I am far from a hopeless romantic. Let's face it: Our culture is obsessed with looooooooove. Love is presented to us in a chocolate-box variety of assorted shapes and flavors like the saccharin, gooey kind of love you find at the end of a feel-good movie. Or the dark and salty kind of love bemoaned by angsty pop singers. Or the nutty variety seen in the insipid gushiness of contestants on The Bachelor

In a sex-saturated culture that is breaking free from old taboos, love comes in all sorts of packaging. Nowadays, we are presented with a colorful array of choices when it comes to lovemonogamy, polygamy, polyandry, polyamoryalong with a glittering selection of orientations to make the mind boggle. The possibilities are endless. Love, it seems, is everywhere in our anything-goes culture. And if it feels good, it is good.

There is certainly a huge market of consumers in demand of chocolate-box love. But this is a godless form of love that is grabby and self-serving. It is a love that drains, consumes, and depletes. Through the Holy Spirit are we empowered to love God and love others in a self-sacrificial waya truly Christ-like way. But, loving others in our own strength, as well-intended as it may be, often ends up being self-serving because of our fallen nature. Even if it masquerades as selfless on the surface, this type of love often serves the self in one way or another; it gives us a sense of purpose, a sense of being needed, or something to worship, or someone to love us back. At its core, it is consumer-driven love that cannot last. Like chocolate, once eaten, it ultimately leaves us wanting for more. It gives us immediate gratification, but cannot sustain us for the long-haul. 

Chocolate-box love has a voracious appetite, consuming and idolizing the objects of it's infatuation. It can lead people to worship their significant otheror a fanciful idea of that personin place of God. This unhealthy form of love eventually burns out revealing itself to be an ephemeral counterfeit of the real thing. But the love of God endures forever! In a godly marriage, spouses endeavor to love God first, and each other second only to Himfostering mutual love and respect, rather than idol worship or co-dependency. A marriage like this will weather the hard times, being built on an eternal foundation.

We know from Scripture that God is love (1 John 4:8) and He is the origin of love (1 John 4:7). The gospel is rooted in love (John 3:16). The purest form of love is revealed in Jesus’s death on the cross. The Greek term for love used by John to describe God in 1 John 4:8 is agape, a form of agapeis, which is also used by Jesus (agapaƍ) when he quotes the greatest commandments to love God and others (Matt 22:37-38). The essence of agape love is self-sacrifice. True love, then, is not self-seeking (1 Cor 13:6), but glorifies God, who is its source.

Godly love is patient and kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud (1 Cor 13:4). But pride and jealousy are often at the heart of chocolate-box love. Jealousy insights us to be possessive over the one we love. Pridean unhealthy form of self-lovedemands that the object of our affection meets all of our needs. Pride is even paraded with rainbows on banners in the name of love. Godly love, on the other hand, does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth (1 Cor 13:5). Godly love does not diminish, devalue, or distort. Instead, it always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres (1 Cor 13:7). 

The love of God gives birth to ever-lasting hopehope that is in Christ Jesus. It is so encouraging to know that we can truly love others in God's strength, with a love that points others to Him. In light of this, I want to build the love I have for my husband on this hope, not on some hopeless romance!

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