What is love? I remember a time when I love you was the hardest phrase to say to the person you really had feelings for because you knew when you said those words it would change the course of your relationship forever. But what is the true meaning of love? The dictionary defines love as a feeling of strong personal attach-ment induced by sympathetic understanding or by ties of kindred; ardent affection for ones children; mans adoration for God; strong liking; fondness; good will, al love of learning; love of country. (Bell, pg. 10) According to Bell all of these definitions convey the outward appearance of love. He says that when looking at love that we need to take an inventory of our feeling to find out if we are truly displaying the type of love that God calls agape love. Bell says we need to ask ourselves the following questions: Do I return love? In any relationship love is a two way street. A marriage or relationship will not last very long if only one person is showing love and the other is not responding in kind. As a matter of fact, a spiritual relationship works in pretty much the same way. The bible says that God first loved us, but if we do not return that love to Him the relationship may diminish. As a Christian we must first love the unsaved person just enough to go to them and share the good news of the gospel. Then after that person has received the gospel of Jesus it is then up to them to accept it and return the love by giving their life to Christ. Ministry is the first stage of this exchange of love. (Bell, Pg 11)
The second question is: Do I try to force love? Since the beginning of time God has always given man a choice or free will. We have a free will to love Him. A free will to obey Him. And a free choice to do His will. As a matter of fact God does not even force His love upon us. Anytime love has to be forced you may as well just call it rape. Even in personal relationships love cannot be forced. If love is forced, it usually results in the person rejecting the love altogether. Christian love does not demand love in return, but it does open the pathway to receive love if love wants to be given.
The next question is one that is very personal to me because it is something that I have to work on improving and that is: Do I express love regularly? Sometimes it is easy to take the people you love for granted. We sometimes assume that the person knows that you love them but we dont tell them or show them on a regular basis. Often times this can lead to neglect of the other person sometimes without intention. Even in our relationship with Christ we should learn to express our love for Him in more ways. We could volunteer more for projects in church; be more faithful in our giving; even attend the services on a regular basis and pray to Him more. All of these things often call for a sacrifice of either time or money but there is a reward for all those who diligently seek Him.
Lastly, is my love personal and do I allow love to feed my life and am I lovable? Jesus expressed His love to each and every individual. When He died on the cross for our sins was the ultimate testimony of love that could be given. And when you know that someone loves you enough to take the blame for all the bad things that you have done and harbor your every sickness and disease in their body so that you could be well it should be hard not to love them back. Unfortunately there are those who reject the gospel everyday, but true love will not give up on those people. Just as Christ came to me several times and I rejected Him, so will he go to them and keep pulling and tugging at their hearts to convince them