A few months ago, I received a call from a young man whom I had met through a mutual friend. The man asked if I would be willing to join him for a cup of coffee, and I agreed. I had no idea what was on his mind, but I suspected it had something to do with religion. After all, it had been made clear to him when we were first introduced that I worked for the Church.
As we sat down the young man confessed to me that his marriage was in trouble. I asked a few questions and he made it very clear that he desired to save his marriage. He proclaimed that there was nothing and no one that he loved more than his wife. He said he was even willing to die for her if need be.
“Then what’s the problem?” I asked. He explained that his wife did not appreciate his friends and that she thought he drank too much. “Are the two connected?” I asked. He said that they were. As we talked further, it became clear to me that the young man’s problem was not his wife but his lifestyle.
“Would you change for her?” was the next question. “This is who I am, who I’ve always been. I shouldn’t have to change!” he replied. At that point, I revealed to him the contradiction, “So, you are willing to die for her, but you will not change for her.” As I spoke those words, the young man’s facial expression softened. I could see that he understood.
1 John 3:16-18
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”
The Bible describes love as something that is much more than a feeling. In the Bible love is always described as an action. Love is a verb. It is doing something for someone. Love is placing the needs of others above our own. The action can be as simple as bringing a cup of cold water to someone in need, or as difficult as laying down our lives for our brothers and sisters.
The young man held an unbiblical definition of love. He thought that love was a feeling. He thought that if his wife loved him she would accept his lifestyle. The young woman demonstrated her love by confronting him. She saw her husband engaged in behavior that was destructive to their marriage, and even to his soul. At the risk of losing him, she confronted him.
God confronts us today. In the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, we hear the voice of God announcing our verdict, “Guilty!” he cries out! No excuse can save us. No sin is hidden from his sight. He has not accepted us for who we are. Instead, he has rejected us! Our only hope is to trust in Jesus, the One who took our punishment upon himself, the One who has revealed to us what love truly is. Do not run from him! Trust in him who died for you, and you are forgiven. You are set free to be “little Christs” in this world; you are set free to show the world what love truly is!
Rev. Troy Tysdal is Director of Communications and Prayer for the CLB and serves as editor in chief of Faith & Fellowship magazine.