“Greater love has no one that this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” -John 15:13


I doubt that any mere mortal who has ever existed hasn’t pondered at least once the question of what love is and what it consists of. Indeed the question has been raised and pondered by theologians and philosophers alike and has resulted in some profound conclusions as well as some very strange ones.


For us Christians though, we know where we must go to seek the answers of such questions, and that is the Scriptures where the wisdom contained within transcends the numerological extent of the pages. This verse is important for another reason besides the insight on love and that is Christ, by His words, foretells of His quickly approaching death upon the cross. Yet, we can also carefully examine this verse, and by some quiet reflection and prayer we can begin to gain perspective on what some of the traits of such a great love as He displayed are.


First, a trait of a perfect love concerns the depths of protection one feels for another party. In a perfect love, represented and personified in Christ Jesus, to protect another or free them of calamity, one willfully lays down there life for another.


Second, a perfect love is humble and forgoes the self even unto the point of death. Christ’s love was so great that He, for a season, became lower and more scorned than all man, that through this unequivocal display of humility we may be saved.


Third, a perfect love is never faulty. This may be obvious by my inclusion of the word “perfect,” but regardless it’s a important thing to consider that no matter what relationship God has blessed you with and however far the love extends, which I pray is very far indeed, but realize it pales in comparison to the perfect love of Christ. This isn’t to belittle the love human beings are capable of, but though we may grow in love, we cannot approach the perfection of Christ due to our already present imperfection. Even things as momentary like mean spirited thoughts towards another, negate the perfection of that love, which was only manifest in fullness in the Lord Jesus Christ.


Fourth, perfect love does not concern the self. We must distinguish the love I am referring to in Christ, from the love that is represented in say a husband/wife relationship, though it can certainly be said in truth that the husband/wife relationship is representational of our relationship with the Lord. Yet, we also know that the love of Christ is not dependent on another party. Rather, Christ’s love was perfect in that it focused entirely on others.


Fifth, a perfect love doesn’t take count of one’s misdeeds towards us. The truth on this statement is evident in Christ’s sacrifice for those who, in a temporal sense, had came before and those that would come after, bearing even more sin upon His tortured form.


Sixth, a perfect love is free of bitterness. Christ wasn’t bitter at those who crucified Him, but rather He actually prayed for them. The though just comes to mind that if someone keyed my truck some night, I don’t think the thought to pray for the culprit would even occur to me, to my shame. Yet, these men brutally tortured and tore into Christ’s flesh, and He was still concerned for them and expressed it in prayer.


Seventh, a perfect love has a desire to protect those in the scope of such love, the scope itself being perfection. We see that Jesus wasn’t immune to being angry, for though Christ was perfect in love, He also had, what I will call perfect anger. In His perfect humility Christ didn’t focus on self, but Rather his friends, which He goes on to call us in the following two chapters, and more importantly God. When we see Christ get angry, a prime example being when He knocked over the tables of the money changers in the temple (Matthew 21:12), it’s usually because God the Father is being disrespected or misrepresented.


Thus, we come to our last trait though I concede there are probably many more. A pure love has its origins and focus on the Lord. For the word tells us in 1 John 4:19, “We love because He first loved us.” (See my note, “On Love’s First Cause”) If we, the children of God, truly want to strive to experience love in its fullness, we need only look to Christ and what He did for us. If we wish to love others the way Christ does, then we must develop a relationship with Him, so that His perfect love will be represented in us and bestowed onto others by our albeit, faulty nature. However, we take hope for the love manifest in us is not of the world and yet is readily seen by those who have opened their eyes and hearts to recognize the truth, salvation and perfect love offered to them by the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

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