FIRST IN A SERIES OF THREE BLOG POSTINGS
God created us with an inherent need for love. Just as our physical body would eventually die without our physical needs being met, a lack of love will disrupt our ability to grow emotionally or spiritually. Without love, we can never fulfill our God-given purpose. Furthermore, we will never be satisfied, healthy, or whole.
God used our parents to provide this much needed love before we were able to know Him personally. They were our first examples of how we would learn to interpret, give, and receive love in relationships. The type and amount of love we received (or did not receive) in childhood will deeply affect our ability to love in adult relationships. If our need for love was not adequately met, we will go through our adult life with a need for love and an empty heart. We may also acquire countless false beliefs about love that will directly spill over into all our relationships.
What Is Love Anyway?
The Bible teaches at least five different types of human relationship that we translate in the English language as “love”. Although familiar and meaningful, the first four of these are human and conditional. Each of these is based upon either approval or performance and will at some point end. The fifth type of love, agape, is supernatural and unconditional. It is not based on approval, or on what someone does or doesn’t do, or on feelings, or on sharing things in common. It is unequivocally based upon the love of Jesus Christ – Unearned. Undeserved. Unending. Unimaginable.
- Hesed (contractual, performance/reward)
- Eros (passionate, sensual)
- Storge (family, generational)
- Philia (brotherly, common interests)
- Agape (spiritual, unconditional)
God intended for our lives to be immersed in agape love. The moment we were saved, or born again, the Holy Spirit indwelled us, and we were connected with agape. But for many of us, an experience of this type of love hasn’t occurred. Past beliefs regarding love block our ability to truly understand and experience God’s love. We may be afraid of intimacy with God because we don’t understand how He operates. We may think He will treat us the way our earthly parent did, and want no part of that.
The remarkable thing about Christ-centered inner healing is that love is both the problem and the cure. The true power behind healing and recovery from the brokenness in your life is being able to connect at a deep level with the God who created you and loves you unconditionally. In that love, you will find peace, wholeness, and the ability to function in healthy relationships. This change doesn’t happen immediately. It is a process, so don’t lose faith. If you seek Him with all your heart, you will certainly find Him!
God’s Love System
In scripture, God lays out His system of love. He gives us a particular ‘formula’ to follow. In Mark 12: 28-31, Jesus was asked what was asked what He considered the most important commandment in the entire Bible:
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
Agape God above everything and everyone – this means we must put Him first and seek Him most. Agape yourself – most of us think humble Christians wouldn’t love themselves. Consider this, we can’t give away something we don’t possess. Agape others – there is a distinct connection between love of self and how we love others. The Bible says we love others as (in the same manner) we love ourselves.
Loving God First
Receiving love without paying a cost is something some of us have a difficult time comprehending. We may believe love is something to work for or earn, much like a job with a paycheck. If we believe God requires us to do special things to earn love from Him, we become ‘performance based’. We will be prone to thinking “God is mad at me.” Or “I’m reaping what I sowed.”
If we measure ourselves by His laws rather than by His grace, we will always see ourselves as failures and unworthy. But the problem goes even deeper. When we are in a performance mode with God, our actions and behaviors try to win His approval to make ourselves feel acceptable. We don’t give Him what He truly desires, which are our burdens, pain, and sin. Instead, we are too busy trying to make ourselves worthy of Him. The reason this cycle of behavior is so dangerous is that God’s love doesn’t rest on our efforts or attempts to be acceptable. It isn’t what we do that makes us worthy in His sight. It’s what He did for us!
True restoration only happens when we embrace, understand, and allow God’s love to flow through us. Our best efforts to produce anything close to agape will always fall short. Remember, true love – agape – is a resource of the Holy Spirit, and we can access it only through a relationship with Him.
Here Are Some General Characteristics Of God’s Love
- God’s love is based on grace. It is a free gift that we cannot earn and don’t deserve (Ephesians 2: 8-9)
- God’s love is based on choice. He doesn’t demand or force us to do anything (James 1:15; Deuteronomy 30:19; Matthew 6:24)
- God’s love is given out of true sacrifice. It cost Him dearly to show His love to us (John 10:11, 15-18; John 15:13, 3:16; 1 John 3:16)
- God’s love is unconditional. There is nothing you can do to take it away or change it (1 John 4:7-10; Romans 8:38-39)
- God’s love seeks an admission of sin so He can forgive and restore areas of our lives (Luke 16:15; Matthew 23:25-28; Isaiah 64:6; Romans 10:3)
- God’s love seeks intimacy with the ‘real you’, not a counterfeit version (Psalm 139; Isaiah 43:4; 1 John 4:18)
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