Episode 1. The Truth About Love
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We all need love in our lives – in fact we need it from the moment we’re born. Because love brings us security, a sense of belonging, and an indescribable and glorious joy. Without love – we …
We all need love in our lives – in fact we need it from the moment we’re born. Because love brings us security, a sense of belonging, and an indescribable and glorious joy. Without love – we can’t enjoy our lives. What a pity that so many of us go looking for happiness in all the wrong places.
It’s great to be with you at the start of a new week and today we’re kicking off a two week exploration of a subject, well it seems that 90% of the songs written in my life time are about this very thing. Love. Or as they normally sing it, “luuurve”. And my hunch is that the Beatles to a great extent had it right when they sang, “All You Need Is Love”.
From the moment we’re born we need love both in a physical sense, I mean without parents who love us, to sacrifice for us we’d perish in just a few hours. And in an emotional sense, we need to belong to a family, to a community, to a team. That need to belong is maybe the strongest manifestation of our need for love.
And if you think about the great joys and the great tragedies that you’ve experienced in your life so far, my hunch is that love, people who loved us, people who should have loved us, people whom we loved or failed to love have stood at the centre of both the heights and the lows in our lives. Sadly, we live in a world where love or more to the point the lack of it is killing people and if it’s not killing them then it’s robbing them of a fantastic life.
Let me give you just one example. Australia, despite internationally having an image of this rugged outback nation, is actually one of the most urbanised countries in the world. 90% of us live along a narrow coastal strip that runs south from Brisbane along the east coast down around to Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide and in the cities fully 1/3rd of all households are single person households. Many people are lonely, many people are unloved and so I wonder what goes through your heart and your mind when you hear that old Beatles classic “All You Need Is Love” playing on the radio.
I wonder whether it brings great joy to your heart knowing that you’re deeply securely safe with love or whether it just serves to highlight the pain, the regret, the shattered hopes and dreams. Well may they sing, “All You Need Is Love”, the question is, where do you get it? And despite the lyrics of the song that tell us and I quote, “it’s easy”, anyone who’s had anything to do with this thing they call love will tell you that it’s anything but.
I mean on the one hand we’re wired to love and want to be loved and so we draw close to people, man and woman, parent and child, friends, dear friends and yet the closer we draw to them the more vulnerable we become because love is about letting people in, love is about intimacy and openness and transparency which is why the more we love someone the more they can hurt us and that’s so often what happens.
It seems that one imperfect person can’t love and be loved by another imperfect person without both of them getting hurt on a regular basis. When we open ourselves up to the imperfections of one another it’s going to hurt. And you know as I look at the enormous love that God shows for us through Jesus never is this truth more true than on that cross. It cost God so much to love us because we, I … I am that imperfect person, you are that imperfect person and He loves us with an infinite love that ultimately cost Him the life of His Son in order to bring us close to Him again, back where we belong.
Love and pain my friend are two sides to the one coin so here’s where I’m coming from. At the beginning of this year I began to pray for you and the many other people who were listening to this program around the world each week, that this year wouldn’t be a year yet again of unfulfilled promises of happiness but that this year would be the year when you discover unspeakable joy. Have a listen to this, 1 Peter chapter 1 beginning at verse 8:
Although you haven’t seen him (that’s Jesus) you love him and even though you do not see him now you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
And that indescribable and glorious joy has everything, absolutely everything to do with the love of Jesus although you haven’t seen him you love him. Love lies at the heart of joy. Without love there can be no joy.
I spent much of my life searching for happiness in this trinket or that bauble or things that the world would dangle under my nose, things that promised so much. And yet each time I grabbed onto them any happiness they contained evaporated almost instantly because I was looking for happiness in things.
That’s how it is with happiness, it depends entirely on our circumstances which is why so many people including, let me say, quite a number who believe in Jesus with all their hearts are so unhappy. They grumble and complain over their circumstances, they’re often overcome by a negative outlook on life even though they love Jesus.
Why? Because they’re searching for happiness in the midst of their circumstances but rarely do they find it there because there’s always someone or something to rob us of happiness and the disappointment of the unfulfilled promise of happiness makes unhappiness even worse.
Joy on the other hand is something completely different because it has nothing whatsoever to do with our circumstances. It depends totally on a relationship. A relationship with God through Jesus Christ. The same Jesus who came to this earth to suffer and to die for me and for you so that we can have a deep perfect loving relationship with God and whilst this is still the truth that lies at the heart of the Gospel, the good news, (that’s what the word Gospel literally means, good news) for some reason we are so thoroughly predisposed to missing it.
Here is the Apostle John writing ostensibly to a dear lady but many think he’s writing to a Church under persecution. Have a listen to what he says about joy and love, how they’re linked in the truth. 2 John verses 4 to 6:
I was overjoyed to find some of your children walking in the truth just as we have been commanded by the Father but now dear lady I ask you not as though I were writing to you a new commandment but one we have had from the beginning. Let us love one another and this is love that we walk according to his commandments, this is the commandment just as you have heard it from the beginning you must walk in it.
See the truth and love are intrinsically linked and here John’s talking about love in two ways. Loving each other and the fact that loving God is about walking in His ways and in His commandments. Now this is not a particularly popular message these days because what it’s saying is that in order for us to experience real love we need to do it according to God’s ways and according to God’s truth and a lot of people, me included let me say for a great part of my life, shy away from that whole idea of truth and commandments. See it’s counter cultural, it appears to be oppressive doesn’t it? Love on Gods terms.
Well, no, no, no I want love on my terms so let me ask you, how well has that been working for you so far? Because the way that you and I want to love is in a selfish way. Oh, we need love all right but not this fantasy the singers dangle under our noses in their songs, not luurve. No we need the real thing, the sort of love that really makes a difference. 1 John chapter 4 beginning at verse 15:
God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God and they abide in God. So we have known and believe that the love that God has for us. God is love and those who abide in love abide in God and God abides in them. There’s no fear in love but perfect love casts out fear for fear has to do with punishment and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because he first loved us.
You see God is love, He loved us perfectly through Jesus His Son, He gave up Jesus’ life so that we could be one with Him and we know that love because we dwell in God. That’s the sort of love we need. Not the worlds love, perfect love.