More Than a Worldly Idea of Love - Radical

More Than a Worldly Idea of Love

But what if it turns out to to be a “This-Is-Us-Crock-Pot” kinda love?

Earlier this month, thousands found themselves gathered around their televisions yelling at a countdown clock during the final minutes of the Super Bowl. Many were not necessarily interested in the outcome of the down-to-the-wire football conquest, but rather the program to be aired shortly after the big game. NBC promised to answer all of the tearful, tantalizing questions that have captured the nation regarding a television drama called “This Is Us.”

I confess I haven’t jumped on the bandwagon of the show, only catching a few highlights here and there. But who could miss the outrage over a plugged in crock-pot and a house fire that confused, shocked, and piqued a growing audience? A mentor of mine recently commented that shows like this give us insight into our culture and its underlying beliefs. What causes this rapt attention with shows such as these? I believe the answer is this: love.

We are fascinated by the relationships portrayed in these dramas because the truth is, we want what they have to offer.

The Love We Want

We want love that will stop and say “I love you” while the house erupts in flames behind us because he couldn’t imagine not declaring this to you. The love we want will emerge victorious from a smoky door with a tiny dog, ashy nostrils and a pillowcase full of irreplaceable memories because he couldn’t stand to disappoint you. We want love that says just the right thing during moments of crisis, followed by forehead kisses and heartfelt reassurances.

We want a worldly love like the characters we see. Like Randall and Beth, whose perfectly arranged spats are merely well-timed, witty banter that leaves us snickering and awing and envious. Or Kate and Toby, who fully support each other while she declares, “You made me believe in me . . . you changed my life . . . you literally saved me.”

And yet, this isn’t real. This is a storyline. A fabricated reality. Like a crock-pot plugged into a well-written drama. And the problem with love that isn’t realistic is that it leaves us wondering if love is even real. This is the difference between what the world says love is and what God’s Word has already declared to be true.

The abounding absolute truth is: God, Himself, is love.

What the World Won’t Tell You

Why are we drawn to worldly love? Because we were made for eternity, and we are drawn to the Source of love. First John 4:7 declares, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” The world won’t tell you that, though.

The world says we need love that feels like something.
The Bible says we need love that acts like Someone (Ephesians 5:1-2).

The world says that love completes me.
The Bible says that I am complete because when I could not love, I was completely loved (1 John 4:19).

The world says that love is the absence of “I’m sorry.”
The Bible says that love is the presence of forgiveness (Proverbs 17:9).

The world says you fall in love by coincidence or happenstance.
The Bible says you choose to love (1 Corinthians 13).

The world says love makes you believe in yourself.
The Bible says love makes you believe in Someone Else (John 3:16).

But the world isn’t completely wrong about love. Because what we see in the fairytales and what we hope for in the televised dramas are the things that draw out our hearts. It is what we hope that love is.

We do want worldly love to be all of those things for us. Maybe this is why we are drawn to the crock-pot flames. The problem is that our desire for love is often focused on what love does to us. But the love born in heaven and demonstrated on earth is about what love has done for us, and what our response to that love should be (Romans 8:32).

Peeling Back the Layers

If I peel back the layers of my own heart, then what I discover is that I don’t really want love. I want obsession. I want someone to be as obsessed with me as I know I am not supposed to be with myself. When love becomes obsessive, it then becomes possessive, and ultimately becomes destructive because love cannot live in the bounds that constrain us to ourselves.

I want love to make me feel. God wants love to make me like Him.
I want love to make me full. God wants love that makes me empty my sinful self.
I want love that gives to me without requiring. Jesus wants devotion that will cost me my life.

This is why I am, why we are, disillusioned with the world’s version of love. We are willing to settle for cheap substitutes. First Corinthians 13:7-8 says, “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends . . . so now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

More Than a Worldly Idea of Love

Why is the greatest love? Because love is the only attribute that doesn’t have a finish line. When we get to heaven we will no longer need faith because our faith will be realized in the face of our Savior. We will no longer need to hope because our confident expectation will come to fruition in a new heaven and a new earth.

But love. Love will live. Love will endure through eternity. Because God is love.

When your heart longs for love, know that it is longing ultimately for the One who is Love. And this longing for love is not wrong, for eternity was built into the heart of every man and woman (Ecclesiastes 3:11). If the earthly love that you are experiencing isn’t living up to your expectations, be brave and ask yourself what narrative of love you are after. Who has your devotion? What version of love are you expecting? Is it a crock-pot, worldly kind of love? Is it a perfect story line? Or will you lean in to a love that has emptied Himself (Philippians 2:5–11), taking on the form of a bond-servant, so that we would know that true love can be found?

Also, don’t throw away your crock-pot. Instead, pick up your Bible. Your love story awaits.

Kim Whitten is pursuing a Master of Divinity with a concentration in Women’s Studies at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Before moving to Texas, she served as a Girls Minister at Idlewild Baptist Church in Florida. Kim has a genuine love for people, a love for the Church, and a desire to see others grow in the knowledge of Jesus Christ through meaningful relationships.


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