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« Our Never-Changing, Ever-Changing God | Main | The Church that Would Not Shut Up »

Why Love Has To Be More Than A Feeling

ppl_1124.jpg Bring back that lovin’ feeling,
Whoa, that lovin’ feeling
Bring back that lovin’ feeling,
‘Cause it’s gone…gone…

So sang the Righteous Brothers many years ago…oh yeah, that “lovin’ feeling.”  That certain euphoric, caring feeling one person has toward another person, according to the popular belief, is love. People either fall in or out of love and no one can control whom, when or why. Many honestly think that they still love someone as long as they have that special feeling. In their minds, their behavior has no relationship to the reality of their love. This thinking has lead to huge problems in our culture.

In fact, our culture is so drunk with visual and verbal hype that anything we say or feel becomes reality. When people today say, “I love you,” they don’t mean “I will do anything for you.” They simply mean, “I have a loving feeling toward you.” When you point out that their actions contradict their expressions of love, you get an incredulous stare, as though you have no clue about life. They have been taught to give such total affirmation to their feelings that no one can tell them that they love or do not love. “I know how I feel,” they protest.

Many irresponsible adults, for example, leave the care of their aging parents to brothers and sisters, alleging that they are too busy, too poor, too tired or too far away to lend a helping hand (or send a helping dollar). Yet, these same people would become enraged should someone question their love for their parents. Many irresponsible moms and dads shift the burden of raising their children onto their parents, relatives or sitters while they run half the night with friends, hit the bars or generally loaf around. They would fight anyone, however, who accused them of not loving their kids. Many other examples exist which represent these same odd phenomena: people who loudly proclaim their love, but whose actions do not back up their grandiose claims. These outrageous ideas exist because our society thinks of love as a feeling.

Love that has no corresponding supportive action, however, is an emotional delusion.

Self-absorption and selfish indulgence actually become destructive of true love. True love can never be measured by how one feels, but by what one does. One who loves does not abandon or desert. One who loves does not prefer self to others. One who loves does not shift personal responsibilities off on others for any convenient reason that comes down the pike. Indeed, if love were still possible in spite of such selfish acts, then love would be gutted of all its value and meaning. The glory of love remains rooted in its selflessness.

The Bible exhorts us to love God. If this love could be expressed in mere words, why would God find it so valuable? He loves love precisely because of the actions, the life decisions, the sacrifices and the dedication it births. God is not into fake tears, pious prayers or short-lived shouts. God does not care how many colored lights we flash on our assertions of love, or whether or not they are strobed, dimmed or hazed. He remains unimpressed with confetti volcanoes, simulated blizzards or black-light effects. When the lights go out and the sound clicks off, God simply wants us to love Him with our actions. When the tears dry up and the dramatic crescendos fade, he wants our lives to be in submission to His will.

The pop-Christian culture has brought a tidal wave of superficial statements of love into the church and prostituted true praise and worship. Love for God, it seems, bursts out from everywhere, but with no relationship to the actions of those who profess the love. Too many people think that a verbal confession of faith and love needs no further proof of legitimacy. But is it really possible to love God and not serve God? Is it possible to love God and live in seemingly blissful disobedience to His Word? Is it possible to love God and mock holy and righteous living? Is it possible to love God and still indulge oneself in the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye and the pride of life? The only way such egregious inconsistencies can exist is if love is thought to be just a feeling, nothing more.

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