If you had to choose the most misused, misunderstood word in the English language, you might very well land on the word love. Why? Because we haven’t figured out the Love that got all love started. And that makes love the gift that no one, it seems, can quite fully describe.
Years ago I read about a conversation with a struggling jazz student and a famous jazz musician. The student really couldn’t figure out the intuition it takes to play jazz. She was trying to get a handle on the rhythms of jazz, so she asked him to define rhythm for her so she could get it. He replied, “If you’ve got rhythm you know it. If you ain’t got rhythm, no definition of rhythm is going to help you.”
And he’s got a point. Up to a point. ‘Cause in I John, the apostle is going to try and define the love of God in all of its indefinableness. You might want to pause just here and read I John, chapters 3 and 4.
In these verses John does his best, to do with love, what the old jazz musician couldn’t do with rhythm. Why? Because Christmas or not, 2000 years of church history or not, however many years of human history since creation of the world, we really don’t know what in the world love is.
So, John wants to define that Original Love and the Original Lover for us. You can count them if you wish in what you just read in John 3 and 4. John uses the word love 30 times in these two chapters. So, you can only conclude that he is trying 30 different ways to get at what it’s all about.
And each time he uses the word love he uses the Bible’s heavy weight word for love, agape. This is the kind of love that breaks the heart of the one who loves this way, because when you put such love out there, it hangs there twisting in the wind like a vulnerable question, asking: “Will you love me back?” and you have no idea how it will be answered. That is God’s agape love.
This kind of love has to be vulnerable, because it loves first. It makes the first move. This is the kind of love that is risk-taking to the point of complete self-forgetting. This is self-giving love. It knows there is the danger of heart break, and yet, it loves anyway.
And Christmas is the story of such love being given and that risk being taken. So, perhaps the question for us is: “How will you and I respond to such risk-taking, ‘all-in’ love?” Or could it be the weightier question: “Who is there in my personal world waiting to be given such love by me?” Just wondering.
Chasing life and following Jesus,
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First Alliance Church • 2201 Old Higbee Mill Rd • Lexington, KY
First Alliance Church
2201 Old Higbee Mill Road
Lexington, Kentucky, 40514