Three Reasons Why Love is Active
My time here at Cornell has radically changed my idea of love. “Love” is no longer a passive word, all about romance or infatuation. Love is and has always been active, because it truly engages me and challenges me not only as the recipient but as the giver. God has graciously taught me a few important concepts about what love is through who He is and who I am as a Christian on this campus. Here are three reasons why love is active:
One of the first lessons I learned about love is that it includes. My picture of love had been incredibly distorted by teenage movies that portrayed it as something only between two people. And since I wasn’t with someone else, it was something I couldn’t have.
But love is for more than your special someone. Love is meant to encourage others in life, and, most importantly, in their walk with God. The commandments found in Matthew 22:37-40 are all about love: first, love the Lord your God; and second, love others, not just one “other”, as you love yourself. In the first and greatest, we are called to love God “with all [our] heart and with all [our] soul and with all [our] mind.” (Matthew 22:37). It’s important to note that this message wasn’t new to Jesus’ Jewish audience. These words can be found in Deuteronomy 6 in Moses’ exhortation to the Israelites. For us, this command is found not only in the words of Christ but is weaved into the epistles, like in 1 John. But, oh, how easily is it forgotten because of our sin and how easily we are drawn away from truths.
Even when we say we love the Lord our God, we must recognize that the way such love is demonstrated is in our actions. We can praise the Lord on Sunday, walk the Christian walk, and talk the appropriate talk, sure! However, do we let our love of God truly characterize our actions toward others throughout the week? This question is the reason why 1 Corinthians 13 was written. The church at Corinth was embroiled against one another because of a prevailing superiority complex of certain spiritual gifts. Paul writes because they failed to recognize that all gifts from the Holy Spirit, no matter what their perceived superiority may be, were given so that the church could be blessed. Such gifts should be displayed not in spite, but in the great God-given understanding of love that should characterize believers.
When we rest on this Biblical foundation, we find that love always involves more than just a plus one. It’s our responsibility as Christians to live in such a way that demonstrates that there is more to love than what our media might say.
I still vividly remember an experience from February of my freshman year of high school. On a retreat with my Christian Club, not really knowing anyone, I went through the right Chris tian motions with the wrong desire of just wanting to go home. But that changed. One evening, people prayed for me and my growth in the Lord without being compelled by obligation. They didn’t know me well, but their prayers and their unexpected love became one piece of my journey to where I am today. Although this time may not be remembered by all, it definitely taught me that love manifests itself in a community of believers whose minds and lives are centered on God, what He has done, and what He will do.
Secondly, love reacts in times of trouble. In the great, unexpected wisdom that it brings, love not only sees our needs, but also anticipates and fulfills them.
Although I easily recognized love as something that is inclusive, seeing love as reactionary was a bit more difficult. I grew up thinking it was not wise to tell someone that you were struggling. So, I never told; I never let anyone into my life. What I’m learning now is that this perception places me in opposition to what the Lord has planned for us as humans. We are naturally called to make friends, to be relational. We are called to ask for a reactionary love that comes with an informed relationship with the Lord when we are in need.
Even now, I deprive myself of this essential aspect of this inclusive, community-driven love in my selfishness and my pride. Please, stop letting your self-sufficiency get in the way and let love react to your anxieties. As Paul says, “cast all your anxieties on [God], because He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7). As we are to mirror God through the perfect example of His Son, Jesus Christ, we must learn to react to others’ anxiety and serve not just as a comforter, but a full doer of the Word. In my times of trouble, it has become necessary for me to allow love to react, and, as God wills, for me to be the reactionary for those who are in trouble as well.
How often do we only think of love as a comforter or a blanket over our problems? This is not what love is; it is what we want it to be. In all of this I’ve realized that often times I project my idea of love on everyone, everything, and most importantly, on God. Sometimes, I just want God to be a comfort, a pacifier. But the great thing is that love is not God, but God is love. His love is not always comfortable, but it is perfect. It is corrective, disciplinary, challenging—it is reactionary. It may not always mean euphoria, but God, in His love, always knows exactly what I need.
I am still selfish and prideful and think that love should only come when I need it and how I want it. My love and my perception of it will never be perfect, but looking at the great love others show in the name of the Lord, I know that my own love will grow so that, in all, Christ will be revealed.
Lastly, one of the things I learned about love is that, when it’s real, it truly endures in all circumstances and through all trials. “Love never ends”… right? It’s so easy to memorize those words from 1 Corinthians 13, to hear them at the end of a wedding’s Scripture reading, but it’s another thing to understand their implications and live them.
Of course, love’s endurance is something we will never be able to embody on our own strength. However, with an active kind of love, it’s important to realize what it entails. Whether it is pointed toward your parents, your best friend, or your coworkers, it means you’ll have to give things up to sustain it. It may mean that you lose study time because you have to help a friend. It may mean you listen to your mom talk about the same things over and over again without becoming angry. It means that you will sacrifice what seems like a lot of time and effort, because these loses will be an immeasurable gain.
In my three years at Cornell and my twenty years on this earth, I have lost some friendships I thought would last for a lifetime. However, I have learned my longest lasting friendships are characterized by this sense of endurance. We both know without a doubt, at least in this present time, that there is an unspoken rule—we will do our best to be there and to stay there.
If anything, I hope this shows that love, in all senses of the word, is hard work. Regardless of what society says, it doesn’t come easily. But the Christian life recognizes this difficulty—love is the work that Jesus Christ did on the cross. As in the book of John, “greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). The most perfect manifestation of love was accomplished when Jesus died in our place for our sins. We now live in full view of this, as written in 1 Corinthians: “For we know in part … but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.” Therefore, what makes love beautiful is not its characteristics but its actions that last forever. There is so much more to say about love, but let me leave you with this thought: when you find yourself searching for love unknown, it may be time to search a little differently. Search for something that acts boldly, search for something that never ends. I know I did.
Dedzidi is an Economics major at Cornell University, where she is a women’s small group leader for Cru Cornell. In her free time, she also expresses herself on her blog, dedzi-dilives.tumblr.com.academia, anxiety, college, Cornell University, education, friendship, love, university