Beyond “Warm Fuzzies”

As we move through February, thoughts often turn to Valentine’s Day and love. Unfortunately, our culture seems a bit perplexed about what love really is. We speak of how we “love our favorite food,” “love our football team,” “love our children,” and “love our spouse,” but love certainly doesn’t mean the same thing in all those statements!

Adding to our cultural confusion about love is the primary understanding among many that “love is a feeling.” Indeed, in some contexts, love has an emotional element. However, narrowly defining love as a feeling or emotional attachment creates a critical misunderstanding about God’s love for us and the Scriptural call to love others as He loves us.

For instance, the Bible commands us to love others—but feelings cannot be commanded. For most of us, feelings tend to just happen (or not happen). So, how could God order us to love others if we simply don’t feel that emotion toward them? The temptation is to inform God that we will indeed do all we can to love others unless we don’t feel like it—in which case He just has to accept that He can’t expect us to love them.

Given the importance Jesus places upon love in the life of a Christian (“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another”—John 13:35), we must be clear that for the Christ follower, love is not primarily a noun but rather a verb. Put differently, love is not predominantly an emotion we experience but an action we choose to take. Biblical love is far more about decision than it is about emotion.

To illustrate, consider the classic Biblical definition of love found in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8: “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.

The love spoken of here is not emotional in nature; in fact, this love is counter-emotional in that displaying it requires us to make choices that conflict with our natural feelings and emotions. In short, God calls us to choose to act in love even if we don’t feel like it!

In a world dominated by warm, fuzzy, emotional understandings of love—often anchored in our own desires and feelings—we as Christians are called to stand out as those who “choose to love,” even at the price of our own self-interest. We are able to make that choice because our strength is rooted in God, who demonstrated the ultimate definition of love: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

Interested in Joining the Mission?

Interested in learning more about the work God is doing in our region and how you can become part of it? Our prayer is that God would use us to reach the almost 12 million people who call Ohio home with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We would love to help further explore how we can partner together with you to achieve this vision. Join us in ensuring everyone in Ohio has an opportunity to respond to the life-saving Good News of Jesus.

Get Involved Now