Harry and Meghan are now the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Royal watchers anticipated the pomp and fashion, but American Bishop Michael Curry’s wedding sermon surprised the Brits with its own share of attention.
Appropriate for the moment, he spoke on love and its power to change people. The Bible says love features prominently in God’s relationship to us, and thereby affects how we relate to one another. “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” (1 John 4:7-8).
To understand this, you cannot measure God by your definition of love. God must be understood on His own terms. Has anyone ever told you, or have you been tempted to say, “If you love me, then you will (fill in the blank).” That’s how you customize love to your own needs. Likewise you might think if God is love, He will stop your pain, fix your problems, or make your life easy. God loves you even when life is not precisely as you want.
Jesus defined love like this: “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). He understood a world in which sacrifice and pain are part of our reality, and in which love has the power to overcome evil. He takes the long view, that this world offers nothing that compares with the glories of eternity.
But there are, you might say, lesser loves which do make this world a nicer place. In The Four Loves, C. S. Lewis describes love as the empathy of a parent, the bond between friends, the sense of being “in love,” and the unconditional love of God. The last of the four is the greatest, the one to which we aspire. It is a sacrificial, willful love.
Love is a choice, not a feeling. Ravi Zacharias said, “The will is that disposition of the mind that will choose a path and bind itself with love, even if pain is mixed with the choice. In the West, particularly, we have become so resistant to pain that at the slightest hint of it, we prepare to flee by some shortcut or some solution that masks the discomfort. By His example, Jesus teaches us the opposite.”
To borrow from the great philosopher Elvis Presley, God couldn’t help falling in love with you. He made you to love. “Take my hand; take my whole life too,” could describe Jesus’ love offer to you. With the life of Christ in you, you can “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” and “your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:37-38). Choose love!