What is true love?

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In May the world’s media descended on the capital of England to watch the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Shane Hughes considers how the reaction to ‘that’ sermon demonstrates the shortfall in society’s understanding of what true love is, and how that could be recaptured.

“As the world watched in awe at the grand pomp and ceremony of that day, the surprise star of the event was a man who only spoke for about 15 minutes. In his sermon, Bishop Michael Curry talked about love in a way that appeared to shock the world. The media was overwhelmed and people continue to talk about it now.

“The world has lost its understanding of what true love is”

I must admit, I found the sermon to be pretty good, but not earth shattering. It was truthful and to the point, but it did not really dwell on the application of this love. What worries me is the way people have found it to be a revelation. As if what Michael said was somehow a breakthrough of human endeavours. This sermon, though spoken with passion, should be nothing new to any Christian. It is the truth that resides in the bible and hopefully in every Church. And this makes me conclude two things…

The world has lost its understanding of what true love is. The idea that love is about forgiving others, about being considerate and understanding, of being patient and kind, of putting others first and considering yourselves second, is now so bizarre and strange to the world, that it does not see this as love. Instead it often sees it as weakness, or worse, as being stepped on – being a ‘doormat’. Though humans strives to ‘do the right thing’ ultimately many motives of today’s society are about “what’s in it for me?”. Years ago, anyone who acted selflessly to protect, or encourage, or lift up did so with no thought for praise or reward. Today those same people want others to know what they have done and what’s worse is we praise those who give away just a pittance of their money, or time. The world has simply lost the understanding of what love actually is –  and that is sacrifice. John 3:16 says, ”for GOD so loved the world, that he gave…”To say we love is to say we will give, we will act, we will be patient, we will be kind, we will be serving, we will be sacrificial.

“Love can build bridges, love can bring peace, love can tear down walls, love can end poverty, love can change a heart”

But how is the world to understand this love if it doesn’t see it? Who is their model? Who is to tell them what love actually is and looks like? And this brings me to my second conclusion…

The greatest commandments are to love GOD and love our neighbours. Those of us in the Church have to be at the forefront in showing GOD’s love to the world. Real love, sacrificial love. If we are more concerned about the type of person who comes into our church, then we need to re-focus what our Church is about. If our bank account is getting bigger, than we need to re-think what being a good steward is all about. If we dwell more on increasing our membership, and less on increasing our relationships, then we need to re-examine our hearts.

Love can build bridges, love can bring peace, love can tear down walls, love can end poverty, love can change a heart. Because GOD is love and only GOD can bring change, no policy or procedures, no government agenda or new age science can bring about the change this world so desperately needs. Only GOD and only by knowing GOD can you know what love is. We in the Church need to show this love. We need to embrace it and act on it. And we need to do so with no thought of reward or praise. Jesus died for us ‘while we were still sinners’ because he is love and as he now lives in us as Christians, we should be showing that same love to those around us.

Shane is married to Lydia and they have 3 young children. He has been a disciple of Christ for over 20 years and is still learning! He is currently one of the leaders at Colchester Road Baptist Church. His passion lies in men’s ministry and is one of the coordinators for Christian Vision for Men in Ipswich. 
The thoughts expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of Network Suffolk.