Love versus Like

I had the opportunity to sit in during the junior high Sunday School class this week and was thrilled to have Matt Lundberg fill in for Jennifer.  Matt led a discussion coming from 1 John 4 which discusses love and how we are to love since God has loved us.  The discussion evolved into an interesting debate on the differences between true love and like (or “modern love” as one 8th grader termed it).  The concept of love is difficult to explain but I was really encouraged by the level of involvement  from the students in the discussion.

To like something is to be pleased with it at a certain time.  There have been times in my life when I have liked a certain food or color or person, but when I change and time elapses I do not like that thing anymore.  It is impossible to like something and be disappointed in it at the same time.  For example if you had a steak that was over cooked and nearly uneatable, you would not say I like this steak.  You might say I like steak in general, but this particular steak is not meeting up to my expectations.  The act of liking something is a temporary emotional feeling that goes away as quickly as it comes.

At its root love is not an emotion or a feeling, but rather something that we choose to do and have toward another person. Our love is a response to the love that has been shown us, particularly from Jesus Christ.  Thus we do not cease to love our God or another person because they have failed us.  We chose to love because God loved us, and we love even in the midst of disappointments, just as God loves us in the midst of our failures.

Love is an important concept that as parents we need to work to impress on our children.  Teach them to love properly both God and their fellow-man.  Keep up the good work!

The Greatness of Love

Of all the things that believers and non-believers alike admire about Jesus Christ, his teaching on love stands out as being uniquely amazing.  God demonstrated through the teaching of Jesus Christ that love is to be given to all people regardless of their desire to return that love.  While preaching the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gives the extent of love to his hearers when he said in Matthew 5:43-45 (ESV):

You have heard that it was said “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.

Jesus turned conventional wisdom of love upside down when he instructed his followers to be people of love, even to those people who are persecuting you.  This is in direct contrast to what we are naturally inclined to do.  If I were to know that if I knocked on your door that you would punch me in the face, would I choose to knock on your door?  Would I willingly subject myself to persecution?  The obvious answer is, no.  However, Jesus claims that we should be willing to suffer, even a nose punch, to demonstrate love and kindness to an enemy.

I challenged our students to think of who the person in their life is that they have been unloving toward.  It doesn’t matter whose fault it was that hate is in the relationship, I challenged them to begin to show kindness to that person.  The goal is not to make some kind of a friend with them, but rather to demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ (which he demonstrated on the cross for our sins) to another person.  Perhaps as a parent you should do the same.  Who is your enemy?  How can you show God’s love, which you received graciously, to that person?