Made for Love

A Rose for LoveTo be alone, under some circumstances, can be a good thing. When we are surrounded by noise and distraction, the demands of job, family and personal responsibilities until it seems the world is caving in on us. It is at times like these we want to get away from it all for some peace and quiet – some pleasant, solitary time with our hobby, a good book or just to walk in the woods or along a quietly flowing stream. Even Jesus sought times to be alone. To be with the Father and talk with Him. To rest and be refreshed. To be away from the demands of people who were continually thronging him, needing, demanding, pressing. To be alone and away from the demands of life for a while can be a good thing.

We don’t have to be with someone on an ongoing basis. There is nothing that says that if we are alone we must seek out a companion or a mate. Not everyone has the need for intimate relationship. Jesus said that some can choose to live a celibate life “…for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.” Life can be good and fulfilling without being with someone. But generally speaking, it still is not good, or at least, not as good as being with someone we love – with someone who loves us.

To be alone can also be a very sad, crushing thing. People whose lives have been turned upside down because of rejection or divorce or through the death of a beloved spouse can be alone in a way that is not good. There are times when we need to be with someone we can talk to. Someone who cares about what is going on in our lives. Someone on whom we can lean for understanding, support and counsel. Under some conditions, “He who finds a wife [or husband, mr] finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord” (Proverbs 18:22), but this should not be done merely as a reaction to loneliness or loss. Companionship should be sought for the need to love as well as to be loved. Here is what I mean:

In the Genesis 2 story of creation, God was said to have created the man, Adam before woman was created. After all else was created, before Eve was made from Adam’s rib, God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone…” (Genesis 2:18). Of all creation, nothing else besides woman corresponds to, reflects, or answers in nature to a man’s nature and need. The need of not being alone. The need to have the loneliness of being alone filled. The need for someone to relate to, to be with, to love and to be loved by that one special someone. And since, according to this story, the woman was made for man, she needs the same thing – to love and to be loved.

Why is love so important to us as human beings? Remember what was said of mankind when God created us humans in the beginning? It was said that… “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Now think of what the aged apostle John said about the nature of God in 1 John 4:8Anyone who does not love does not know God, becauseGod is love.” Admittedly, that verse is not specifically speaking of the relationship between a man and a woman, but without a doubt the love between two people of the opposite sex would be included in John’s thoughts here. If we were created to be in the image or likeness of God, and God is love, then the perfect way for us to be like God is for us to love like God. The relationship between a man and a woman is where love of the deepest, truest kind may be cultivated and experienced. Every kind of love finds expression here.

Philia – the love between friends. Lovers – husbands and wives – should first be best friends. There should be ease and openness of communication, mutual interests, a feeling of being free to be one’s self and be accepted without being motivated to change the other to suit ourselves. Couples should want to be with one another and that being together should be natural (“I could just totally be myself around him.”) There should be trust in the relationship – a confidence that our confidence will not be betrayed. In this kind of love we freely commit ourselves to the other and receive in return the same kind of commitment. Friends simply don’t betray friends.

Eros – sexual love – the love that finds expression and fulfillment in the physical, sensual intimacy of the loving embrace, the tender caress, the lingering, passionate kiss and, yes, ultimately in the marriage bed. This kind of love permits us to experience something of the joy of being and intimacy that God experiences in the triune existence of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I do not mean that the divine experience is erotic in the nature of human eroticism, but exuberant and joyful, reveling in the intimacy of perfect relationship. It is, when manifested as God intended when he made us with the capacity to love in this way, a beautiful and fulfilling thing. Some even say they experience this kind of love as almost worship. However, when abused by being used only for selfish gratification, it can be an ugly, destructive, controlling habit – a raging fire of self destruction.

Stemming from the love between a man and a woman, the family experiences storge, called in some Bible translations, “natural affection.” This is the love of kin. But it extends outward as the realization that we are all of the same human family regardless of race, ethnicity, national or economic differences. This should motivate us toward the remaining kind of love…

The highest kind of love – agape – the love that is of the kind that God manifests toward us. This latter love is that which originates in and manifests the character of the individual. It is selfless and giving, interested in the well-being of the object of this love. It grows from the soil of God’s own love toward us. It is, when we practice it, a reflection of God’s own character. It is us being like God. Husbands are instructed to love their wives in this way (Eph. 5:25-33), and wives their husbands (Titus 2:4).

We feel within ourselves the need to be loved. But humans were made to give love, not just to receive it. The need to love is greater than the need to be loved. For this reason, if we desire to be loved, we must first learn to love others. “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 7:12). Sociologist, best-selling author and popular speaker, BJ Gallagher wrote in an article in the Huffington Post… “How to get started finding true love? Just as Gandhi told us to “BE the change you wish to see in the world,” perhaps we would do well to “BE the kind of person you’d like to love.”

It is self-centered to not want to love. This is why people who enter into a relationship expecting the other person to make them happy will soon be disappointed. A relationship based on the selfish desire to be loved – without a corresponding desire and purpose to love – will likely not last. A person who is like this is a taker, not a giver and real love must be a giving thing. It is in such a giving relationship that we find the greatest happiness. If we seek someone to make us happy, we will invariably find unhappiness. Just so, we can not really make someone else happy. Happiness is something that is within us, not something someone gives us. Loving and being loved cultivates and nurtures happiness.

Love has been the inspiration of some of the most beautiful music and the most evocative poems and lyrics. This song by Anne Murray says something of what I wanted to say in this article. (Click on the link, “You Needed Me”).

You Needed Me

I cried a tear, you wiped it dry
I was confused, you cleared my mind
I sold my soul, you bought it back for me
And held me up and gave me dignity
Somehow you needed me

You gave me strength to stand alone again
To face the world out on my own again
You put me high upon a pedestal
So high that I could almost see eternity
You needed me, you needed me

And I can’t believe it’s you I can’t believe it’s true
I needed you and you were there
And I’ll never leave, why should I leave, I’d be a fool
‘Cause I finally found someone who really cares

You held my hand when it was cold
When I was lost, you took me home
You gave me hope when I was at the end
And turned my lies back into truth again
You even called me friend

You gave me strength to stand alone again
To face the world out on my own again
You put me high upon a pedestal
So high that I could almost see eternity
You needed me, you needed me
You needed me, you needed me

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