A Love to Celebrate on Valentine’s Day comment (0)
February 13, 2014
By Bob Terry
Oh the euphoria of romantic love. That is the message of Valentine’s Day as lovers exchange roses and chocolates and keepsakes to symbolize their bubbling emotions. Romantic love is beyond infatuation though one in love is so captivated by the other that it is hard to think of anything else.
Romantic love is simply captivating. It is passionate. It is bliss. It is … well poets have tried to describe romantic love for eons and still words have failed to capture the essence of one of the strongest driving forces ever experienced by humanity.
Scientists and psychologists continue to study romantic love and what they are reporting frequently doesn’t match what the poets describe. For example, anthropologist Helen Fisher did a complicated series of brain scans and concluded that romantic love is a product of a chemical reaction. Norepinephrine and dopamine mix with other chemicals to create the sense of well-being called love, she writes in her book “Why We Love.”
Arthur Aron built on this research and reported, “The reason people are so attracted to cocaine is that it activates the area of the brain that makes you feel good. The same reward area is activated when people experience the intense desire of romantic love.”
Being in love is now equated with drug addiction and some are proposing “treatments” for those who like to be in love.
An article in Psychology Today recently took a swipe at romantic love. The article said people were drawn toward what makes them feel good and gratifies an immediate need (romantic love) but these same people have trouble with the anxiety provoking nature of relationships.”
Other studies have concluded that romantic love lasts only about a year and must be followed with “more mature relationships.”
Anthropologist John Townsend concluded that men and women approach romantic love differently while psychologist Karen Horney writes about romantic love leading to a desire to “possess the partner” and to disillusionment.
Research seems to indicate the romantic declaration “I love you” really indicates a possessive, clutching relationship. The emotion is to fulfill the need of the one doing the loving, not the good of the one being loved.
How different from the love the apostle John described when he wrote, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son …” (John 3:16). Here John describes God’s love as sacrificial, not selfish; a love that is outwardly focused, not inwardly fulfilling. He says God’s love is timeless, not temporary.
God demonstrated the nature of His love when He gave the world a present — His only Son.
“It is almost as if God surveyed all the lawgivers, kings, priests, prophets and seers of the Old Testament and concluded ‘Not enough,’” wrote the late Alabama Baptist theologian William E. Hull. “All of the angels and archangels, cherubim and seraphim of heaven, but still, ‘Not enough.’ At last His eye fell on His Son, the One with whom He enjoyed the most intimate fellowship imaginable. And God said, ‘Finally I have found the perfect gift. Because I love My Son uniquely, in giving Him up for the world will at last realize that I love it uniquely as well.’”
The magnitude of God’s gift matched the magnitude of humanity’s need.
The day finally came when “eternity yielded to the needs of time” and “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” The aorist tense of the Greek verb “gave” indicates a day finally came when the deed was done. Jesus left the Father’s side so that “whosoever believeth on Him should not perish but have eternal life.”
Jesus confirmed that His coming was a gift when He said, “The reason My Father loves Me is that I lay down My life — only to take it up again. No one takes it from Me but I lay it down of My own accord” (John 10:17–18).
Ultimately Jesus made the love of God known by paying the price of humanity’s sin. God’s sacrificial love caused Him to give His uniquely loved Son for the benefit of humanity that had spurned God’s love poured out on the world since the beginning.
But there is nothing mushy about God’s love or His gift. While the purpose of Jesus’ coming in flesh was “to save the world” (John 3:17), the inevitable result was judgment. Jesus described Himself as “light” in verses 19 through 23. People will either “come to the light” or will “prefer darkness,” He said.
Whoever believes in Him (Jesus — the Light) is not condemned, declares verse 18. “But whoever does not believe in Him (those who prefer darkness) stand condemned already because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son.”
God’s sacrificial love took the initiative toward humanity already living under condemnation because “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). God, “who sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins,” provided the means of salvation (1 John 4:10).
Undoubtedly God’s desire is that all might be saved (1 Tim. 2:6), but God’s gift is outwardly focused. Humanity’s free will requires each to make a choice. That is why Jesus said, “Whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” Those who do not believe in Him are “already condemned” because they have chosen to remain separated from God’s love and continue living in sin and darkness. Forever and ever they will know what it is like to spurn love so freely offered.
Romantic love is important in human life no matter how scientists describe it or what psychologists say about it. But God’s love is so much more. It is the way of eternal life. Roses and chocolates may represent romantic love, but God’s love is seen in God “sending His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him” (1 John 4:9).
That is a love to celebrate on Valentine’s Day and every day.