The Trumpet Sounds: ‘Real Love’

By Barry Pettit - Religion Writer

As you know, we will soon be entering the wonderful month of February. I have always felt like February is just a month we need to get over as quick as possible so we can finally get to March for better weather. Yet, many people seem to absolutely love the month of February. If you’re in a romantic relationship the month of February may be one of your favorites, but if not is may be a month that is your least favorite. I say this because of a day we that occurs on the 14th entitled “Valentine’s Day.” Soon, you’ll see it in the stores. There will be rows of cards, flowers, and chocolates. Some people will prepare for it early, and some will wait until the very last moment. There will be smiles, tears, and all sort of emotions on that day. In short, it is a celebration of the word “love.”

Someone one wrote that if you love something, set it free. If it comes back, it was and always will be yours. If it never returns, it was never yours to begin with. If it just sits in your living room and messes up your stuff, eats your food, uses your telephone, takes your money and never behaves as if you actually set it free in the first place — you either married it or gave birth to it! So today I want you to think about the word “love.” Love can make a heart flutter uncontrollably. It can make the toughest man blush. It can make a grown man cry and women make horrible decisions… Seriously, we live in a culture that is obsessed with this thing called love. The world sings about it, the poets write about, and religion seems to love to argue about it

Everyone has a deep desire to want to experience love. Almost without exception, you can walk into any store and just see shelf after shelf lined with romantic novels. There are movies about it, and everyone seems to be interested in who loves who, and who loves you! Psychiatrists say that three of the greatest needs of a human being are the need to be wanted, the need to be needed, and the need to be loved. In 1 Corinthians the Apostle Paul tells us when everything is said and done only three things will remain: “When everything else passes away: And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor 13:13) Real love has, is, and will remain even throughout eternity.

There are actually many different types of love described throughout history. Many people in our current culture would personally define love differently. If you ever study the subject of “love” you will see that throughout the dispensation of recorded time there have been at least seven different types of love. The love you feel for your lover is not the same as the love you feel for your mother. Even the love for your lover changes in time. We are designed to feel different emotions for different situations and people. But still, in the English languages we just use one word “LOVE.” So anyone can see how easy it is to understand that there is confusion when the word “LOVE” is used. We can say “I love you” to two different people (and mean it), but be actually feeling in a different way then it’s received.

However, beyond the different types of love that are used in the world there is a love that is greater than all love that only comes from God. It is a love called “agape” love. It is an unconditional love not based on performance, behavior, emotion, or commonality. Agape Love cannot be turned on as a reward. It cannot be turned off as a punishment. Only something else pretending to be love can be used as a lure, as a hook, for bait and switch, imitated, insinuated, but the real deal can never be delivered if it doesn’t spring freely from the heart.

This doesn’t mean that love allows destructive and abusive behaviors to go unchecked. Love speaks out for justice and protests when harm is being done. Love points out the consequences of hurting oneself or others. Love allows room for anger, grief, or pain to be expressed and released. But love does not threaten to withhold itself if it doesn’t get what it wants. This Sunday at South Side we will further unpack the different types of love that the world offers, and the “agape” love that only God can give us. Come early, and enjoy a fresh cup of coffee and snack at Café Connect. We now offer two “new” worship times that begin at 8:30 & 10:45. We hope to see you there!

In Christ,

Barry Pettit

Lead Pastor

South Side Church of Christ

By Barry Pettit

Religion Writer