Do you see it? It’s all around you. It’s here, there and everywhere. It’s shouting in the news. It’s screaming in the movies. Politics is polarized because of it. Corruption is rampant because of it. Technology can’t replace it. John Lennon wrote a song about it. Jesus noted that in the latter days, it would grow cold. What is it? It’s the lack of real love, and, in my opinion, it’s killing us and our culture.
Arnold Toynbee said, “I think that love is the only spiritual power that can overcome the self-centeredness that is inherent in being alive. Love is the thing that makes life possible, or indeed, tolerable.”
A noted doctor has listed several emotions which produce disease in human beings. Heading the list is fear, followed by frustration, rage, resentment, hatred, jealousy, envy, self-centeredness and blind ambition. The one and only antidote that can save people from these, he said, is love.
Love cures people, both are the ones who give it and the ones who receive it. In other words, for a better world, all we need is love.
Note this quote by Mark Twain. “Love is the irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired.”
Some of you may recognize the following statement: God’s not mad at you — God’s mad about you. I have used it several times in my articles through the years. There is a true historical reference in the Scriptures that reveals to us what, “God’s not mad at you — God’s mad about you,” looks like, feels like and is like in real life. It’s one of the ways God chose to reveal to us, God’s unimaginable, unchangeable love for us, in a real life Cinderella story.
This historical occurrence concerns two real people. One character was a sun beaten shepherdess who was at one end of the social spectrum. Life had beaten her up. Her choices had beaten her up. She had given up on anything other than the worst happening to her.
The other character was a king named Solomon. He was at the other end of the social spectrum. He ruled one of the most powerful kingdoms the world has ever seen. When the shepherdess saw him in real life, she was overwhelmed by his persona. In her mind, the king could never and would never be overwhelmed by her persona.
What happens next is recorded for eternity in the Scriptures. When Solomon sees her, he is absolutely ravished by her inside beauty. He saw in her what she could never see in herself. This wasn’t a sexual thing. The years and the sun beaten shepherdess’s background had taken some of that away. He recognized her value, her essence and her potential royalty, even though she wasn’t a queen. He loved her, even though life didn’t. That’s what real love does.
The original Hebrew words in this love story show more than a conditional type of love. The original Hebrew words reveal concepts and ideas like passion, ravished, fervent, desire, intimate, longing, wonder, splendor, a reckless holiness and total abandonment. It took King Solomon, who loved her unconditionally, to awaken the swarthy shepherdess to her value, identity, potential and future purpose. His faith, hope and love awakened her dormant faith, hope and love.
The king’s love changed her mental, emotional and spiritual outlook. She said, “I’m ugly.” He said, “You’re beautiful.” She said, “I have a terrible past.” He said, “You have a great future.” She said, “I’m poor, I have no money.” He said, “You’re wealthy, I’m giving you ornaments of gold” She said, “I’m a lowly shepherdess.” He said, “You’re a queen.” She said, “I’m unclean from sin.” He said, “You are now whiter than snow.” She said, “I was condemned by my family.” He said, “There’s no condemnation in my family.” She said, “I’m unworthy.” He said, “You are worthy.” She said, “My house is a dirty field.” He said, “Your house is now the king’s chambers.” She said, “I’m bad.” He said, “You’re good.”
King Solomon came down and met her where she was. Then took her up to where He was. This is what Jesus did for us. Jesus is the king. We are the shepherdess.
Do you see what this true story reveals to us in a way that most everyone can relate to? The Bible says that we can love because God first loved us. Just like that shepherdess and King Solomon, the only way we can be awakened to our real worth, true identity and inestimable value is for God to awaken us by showing us what we mean to God. We don’t deserve it. We didn’t earn it. We just need to believe it and receive it just like the shepherdess did.
Why do we need to know that God loves us? Pastor Mike Bickel says it perfectly: “We will never have more affection or passion for God than we understand that He has for us. We will never be more committed to God than we understand that He is committed to us.” Why? “Love is the irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired.” Sound familiar?
In other words, God loves us with his type of love and now we can love others with God’s type of love. More on God’s type of love next week.