Session VIII of Love and Relationships!
Have you ever wondered what LOVE really is?
If we get love wrong, or confuse it with something else, we will end up with loose associations. What we will not have is in-depth relationships. We have to know what love is. This is essential to the world of relationships! This is the spotlight that will light our path thorough the maze, as Christ lights up our life. This will act as a spotlight to guide and show us where to go, where to turn, and what to avoid. This is paramount for all serious relationships, and essential in marriage. This is the light of love to show you the right path, and allow you to understand and practice real authentic love. You need to be able to find, build, and maintain relationships and community, because you cannot practice what you do not know.
But, what is love? Have you ever wondered if your understanding of love is the right understanding? Most people are emphatic that they know what love is, but, if you ask them to define love, you will get either silence or lyrics from love songs. Whether you think you may be right, or you feel you may not understand love at all, we all need to have a solid Biblical view of love before we can effectively proceed to engage in, or build on a good, loving, Christ-centered relationship. If not, we will just rely on our feelings, and what others and the media have to say. This will cause distortion in our thinking, creating disorientation and confusion that will adversely affect our ability to love, and even to discern who is right for our mate selection, or how we deal with our spouse. And, when we do get into a relationship, an unhealthy attitude of love will adversely affect our growth, and ability to build that relationship. True love will be absent-in the giving or receiving of it!
So, what is love? So much poetry and beautiful prose have been written over the millennia of human experience to try to capture its purpose and meaning. All of humanity, in all cultures, places, and times has sought out the meaning of love. We have the incredible depth of the Shakespearian Sonnets, and poetry from master wordsmiths. But, even the greatest writers have defused their views through their personal experiences, emotionalism, experimentation, and the seeking of desires, trying to add logic and reasoning to it, and seeking a higher being, to name a few. We hear contemporary songs that have no real, ponderous thinking to them at all, just mindless dribble from confused minds seeking rhymes and an audience-not real, authentic meaning.
In my experience with marriage counseling, most Christian couples and few pre-married couples have no real grasp on what Biblical love is. Thus, they would be diving in the shallow end of the pool without the deep waters of real love to smooth the impact.
Perhaps you are thinking that the relationships you seek will fill that void of loneliness, and add meaning and purpose to your existence. And, if you are married, or dating, this comes as a foundation to how you are and what you do. Perhaps you have a favorite love song that motivates and thrills you with feelings of anticipation and excitement. But, will you be practicing love? Will that be real authentic love? The media, and our culture, have many people enslaved, and confused in thinking that they know what love is. Have you considered that what our culture has to say about love is just a façade, with no real backing behind it? Like a house on a movie set, just the front part is built; so, there are no real rooms, no working plumbing, no utilities, no roof-when it rains, you get wet. Yes, it may look good, but, there is nothing there to make it a home, not even a bed. Not having real love will leave you empty and alone in a house that is only a façade, and not a home.
When we are seeking, from friendships to romantic love and fullness, we will apply what we think love is, causing our relationships to be skewed. This will also flow to other areas of our thoughts and lives, causing further harm and confusion. We then pass all of this on to our progeny and others around us. This quest of love will eventually cross into theological love if we really desire to seek and apply what God has to say. But, we have to get this right, too. As many people have said, God Himself is pure love, to the point that all God is, is love. They leave out the rest of His characteristics. Thus, love runs the full spectrum from romanticism and the quest for personal satisfaction, to God, and the meaning of life. And, when you have the wrong idea and definition of love, it will adversely impose on all those areas in your life.
The other end of the quest for love is to ignore it, or use it wrongly. Not loving, or loving the wrong thing, will lead us far away from God's truth and perfect plan for us. The wrong use of love can be sin. When we do something wrong against God, it not only affects us as an individual, but, it also affects everyone around us such as our family, friends, and the rest of the body of Christ. Even God Himself, who is not affected by, but is hurt by our practice of sin, is included. God is Holy. His character and who He is remains un-affected. However, He is saddened that we choose to ignore Him and seek false truths and created things over the Creator. Sin is a disease that spreads and builds, one into another, just like cancer. It starts with a single cell that mutates, builds upon itself, then multiples and mutates further until it starts spreading into, and throughout the whole system. Malignancy occurs because the spread is not reversible, and soon affects the entire body. In the case of the Christian, false love and pride will affect the whole life of the person-not just the physical body, but, also the body of Christ. What does sin affect? What does improper love do? The body of Christ, the people who claim Jesus as Lord, and those with whom we are in fellowship together, can be affected, and even destroyed. Then, the Gospel and the Truth are muted!
Read again 1 John 4:7-21 (you can never read this passage enough!) then discuss this section and answer these questions:
1. Have you ever wondered if your understanding of love is the right understanding?
2. What do you think love is? How would you define it personally, without Biblical influence?
3. How does the world and the media determine love?
4. How does God's Word help us define and understand Love?
5. How does understanding real, authentic love help make you complete?
6. That world sees "love" as exciting and inviting, and, is only found in another person. Yet, these ideas, from love songs and friends, leave you not knowing what love is, but, thinking you do-or you are confused. How can you keep from being confused between what the world says and, what God says?
7. How do you find love?
8. What are some of the falsehoods of lust that either you, or others you have seen, confuse as love?
9. Why is it impossible to build competence and eminence in our relationships without a good understanding of the Love the Bible shows us?
10. Why do you suppose, that if we just rely on our feelings, and what others and the media have to say about love, we may fail in our relationships?
11. How can an unhealthy attitude of love adversely affect your growth, as well as your ability to build that relationship?
12. Shakespearian Sonnets and poetry from master wordsmiths have influenced how we see love. Even though they may have wondrous things to say, why are they unreliable?
13. What can be some of the dangers of trying to add logic and reasoning to love?
14. In my experience with marriage counseling, most Christian couples, and a few pre-married couples, have no real grasp on what Biblical love is. Why, and how do we get ourselves in this predicament of saying we are in love, then soon fall out of love-yet, we tend not to know what love is?
15. How can having an improper view of God's love and characteristics affect our love and relationships?
16. Why do so many people ignore love, or refuse to learn about it?
17. How can the wrong use of love be sin? How have you seen relationships destroyed by its misuse?
18. Have you ever sought false truths and created things over the Creator? If so, what were your motivations or reasons? What have you learned?
19. If you know a friend or relative who is in a relationship, and has a skewed sense of what love is, what can, or should you do?
20. What do you think you need to do to apply what God has to say about love?
Pray as a group and individually at home about how what we talked about can make you a changed person, so you can apply these precepts to all of your relationships!