It’s February -- the month of loooooveeee. If you look up on Google the definition of love -- you will get the response from up above. But I would say, the definition of love is not typically that clear and concise to fit in the boxes of those definitions -- as there are many different types of love. Even in Scripture there are three main words that are used to describe different types of love; Philia – friend bond, Eros – romantic love, and Agape – unconditional "God" love.
Love is something in scripture that we are called to do but how do we do it? Recently, I was in Bible study with our young adult small group and we were going over the book of 1 Peter. As we were reading a verse popped out at me, “Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love (philia) for each other, love (agape) one another deeply, from the heart,” 1 Peter 1:22. Look at the two different types of love that are stated within this sentence. First, the brotherly love is mentioned and then it dives into a deeper love -- an unconditional love that we are called to have for one another. Do you feel like our nation is lacking love? Do you feel like your life is lacking connection with those that you love?
Maybe, you are struggling to love those that God has placed in your life? I truly believe that we have gone away from the practice of loving one another with unconditional love. I don’t know if ever since the fall, we will truly ever get it right. We love people on conditions -- that they believe in the same things we do, that they support the same causes that we do, that they vote the way we do, act the way we do, and overall -- that they are the same as we are. But the problem is that isn’t unconditional love at all. When we look at the popular verse of 1 Corinthians it explains all that love is and what love is not; love is not self-seeking, is not proud, not quick to anger, holds no record of wrongs; it is patient and kind. Sounds like all the things that the world is replacing love with -- right?
We live in a world that is self-seeking, that is proud, that is angry, and that is displaying wrongs left and right. Now don’t get me wrong, some things are justified and we need to hold accountable people for their actions. However, what would the world truly look like if we loved people with unconditional love? If we stopped fighting over everything and just listened? If we were patient with people regardless of what we hold so dear to be true? What if we put down our agendas and looked into the eyes of the human (that God created, btw) and saw the love of Christ instead of what we want to get through to them? I happen to believe that the world would be a lot less messy of a place. However, we fall -- we fail -- we make mistakes.
That is where forgiveness comes in -- which is a part of loving people unconditionally. A forgiveness that was bought for us on the Cross. A forgiveness that cannot be taken away. I pray that as a nation -- we can love one another unconditionally with the love that Jesus Christ himself died for, poured into our hearts, and asks us to give to others. I pray that we can forgive one another -- truthfully, forgive -- and see how God’s resurrecting power is within us, our relationships, and our nation. We are not alone in this, for we have the perfect example in Christ. And if He is within us, for us, and leading us -- we can move mountains.
So how are you going to love better in 2021? How are you going to love with unconditional love? Who do you need to forgive? Who do you need to ask forgiveness from? How can you follow Jesus in loving your family, your spouse, your children, your co-workers, your community, your nation in a more pure hearted way? I pray this for you in 2021. I pray this for me. I pray this for our nation. May the love of God rest in your hearts both now and always.
In His Love,
Jessica Tibben was installed as Director of Family Life at SHLC in December 2019. She was previously working in Denison, IA as Director of Youth and Family Ministry for the past 5 years. She loves being able to serve both youth and families and bringing them to know more about Jesus.