There’s a kind of love that never leaves. A love that never wavers in commitment, no matter how challenging circumstances get. Love that knows when to confront and when to comfort. Love isn’t turning a blind eye to the problems that others have: it’s loving them despite the fact that we’re imperfect people that make mistakes. We show the love to others that can lead people to Christ without even uttering a word.
For our first monthly theme here at the Lighthouse, I thought that we should start with one of the most seemingly basic topics around, Love. And while it’s casually uttered so often, is it possible that as a culture, and as teens, we’ve come to settle for a love that isn’t all that loving?
In the Bible, we’re given a great description for what love truly is, in any capacity. Here’s an excerpt that will provide the backbone for just about everything we’ll study this month.
“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
1 Corinthians 13:1-13 NIV
For me, that’s profound. When I ask myself the questions, “Am I patient?”, “Do I envy?”, “Am I always kind?”, and the many others brought up in the chapter, I’m sad to say that frequently, I don’t show the kind of love that we ought to. Do you? Can you ask yourself those questions and answer honestly that you are perfectly loving in every way, and each area of your life?
The simple fact is, I don’t believe that one of us can. But these years that we find ourselves in aren’t to be frittered away, knowing that we can never be perfect. No, these are the years that we’re molded into who we’ll be as adults. If we start striving now to love perfectly and genuinely, then that’s who we’ll grow into being: a person of kindness and compassion, not a perfect person, yet one that is mindful of their imperfection and that never stops seeking to follow Christ in every area.
In the world today, too many young relationships are grounded in flirtatiousness and fleeting emotions. Genuine relationships aren’t built on flirting, because it’s only a feeling, and as soon as those emotions are gone, then the relationship collapses.
The world today believes that teens are naturally rebellious, hate their parents, and have to be in a relationship. While young relationships are fine, they’ll only last if the love between the couple is built on something stronger than temporary emotions.
The greatest type of love is displayed in the Bible, showing a level of love that few can obtain.
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
If we’re honest, how many people would we be willing to lay down our own life for? Now, take a murderer, what about them? Would you be willing to lay down your life for a criminal?
That is exactly the astounding level of love that Jesus showed us when he laid down his own life for us on the cross. We can never reach that level of sacrificial love. But God has blessed us with the teen years as a time to grow closer to Him and those around us.
To start loving unconditionally in a world that makes it all too easy to float along with the temporary pull of emotions, it takes going counter-cultural. We can start by seeing people for who they truly are inside: a child of God, defined by their virtues and not appearances.
Successful young relationships are built upon a foundation of unconditional love. A love that’s only found at a certain point in two individuals’ lives. The point where their desire to love God is firmer than the temporary and often confusing emotions that come with adolescence. A point where one’s love for the other is greater than that of one’s selfishness. Where you only want what’s truly best for the other individual, and God’s love and plan are the basis for what you desire in a relationship. Not the things that are temporary, but those things that last forever. That point comes later in a teen’s life, and sometimes doesn’t come until adulthood.
In order to show God’s love, we need to be in line with his will for our lives. Only when we can accept that incomprehensible type of love deep in our hearts can we even begin to scratch the surface of expressing it.