RELIGION COLUMN: Overcoming our twisted concept of love

Published 6:12 pm Wednesday, February 20, 2013

By Jake McCall

Valentine’s Day comes and goes every year in order to celebrate and express love.

Yet, love in our minds is really such a twisted concept and so often becomes a frustrating and selfish quest whether in friendships, dating or marriage.

As our fallen and twisted nature leads us on our pursuit of loving and being loved, we gain a fallen and twisted result.

Just last night, my 3-year-old daughter, Ellie, came up to me and said, “Daddy, I’ve really been loving you a lot today.”

And as I went to hug her and thank her for loving me and being so kind, she followed that with, “Do you think I could watch one more Care Bears movie?”

Now I know my daughter loves me and I adore her even in her selfishness, but even at 3 years old she has learned that people respond to feeling loved, and it can be used to manipulate, serve self, gain advantage over others and gain control of situations.

This goes far beyond a 3-year-old, as I am guilty of the same thing only in a more subtle form (and sometimes not so subtle form).

My “love” for others can often be a very selfish thing and I often expect something in return.

When my “love” toward others does not produce my desired response, I respond with disappointment, sadness or anger. Is this really what we celebrate on Valentine’s Day? Yes, most often it is.

Throughout Scripture, and especially in the four gospels, we have a wealth of information about Jesus.

His life gives us the perfect standard and example of love and it is summarily demonstrated in only four ways: 1) A love for God the Father; 2) A love for the

Father’s plan; 3) A love for humanity; and 4) A concern for their condition.

Jesus’ love for the Father (John 14:31) surpassed love of self and others and therefore as he looked to please the Father, love was manifested through him.

The one who we most love will be the one who we ultimately worship and follow.

If that is a person or a thing then we will worship and follow a poor and disappointing god in that person or thing.

Jesus’ love for God’s plan was demonstrated as he was willing to drink the cup that the Father had for him.

This was the cursed cup of death and even Jesus approached it with sorrow and pain.

Just prior to his arrest and crucifixion, Matthew 26:39 tells us that Jesus said, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”

We also see a love for humanity and a concern for their condition in Mark 10:45 as Jesus says, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

Jesus loves his people and had a great enough concern for our condition to come and serve us by shedding his blood for the forgiveness of our sins.

Jesus has shown us how to love. Without him, we do not know love.

—Jake McCall is a religion columnist for The Clanton Advertiser. He is the pastor at Grace Fellowship Presbyterian Church.