Part I looked at several portions of scripture and how they illustrate authentic love. In Part II, we’ll discuss the concept of authentic love further and work toward personal application.
The Theme of the Bible
“Above all, love each other deeply.” (1 Peter 4:8)
If the Bible were summed up in one word, that word would be love. In fact, the more you read through the Bible, the more you realize that love clearly exists as the extreme to which we must live. And truthfully, we all have the desire for deep love within us, don’t we?
Harlequin and Hollywood have definitely tapped into our desire to love and be loved deeply. Unfortunately, in that tapping, they’ve also distorted what authentic love really looks like.
Fortunately, God’s Word shows examples of authentic love over and over again. Throughout scripture and without fail, God’s shows deep love for His people.
Barriers to Authentic Love
Barriers to authentic love can include anything from fear of being hurt to busyness to being intimidated by some to being shy talking to new people. So, we protect ourselves by acting aloof, by creating an emotional distance and by creating protective emotional barrier between us and others. As a result, we fail to truly connect with others.
To be aloof means to keep distant. An aloof person can be described as reserved, indifferent, cool, detached, distant, standoffish, snobbish, haughty and even disdainful toward others. Ouch!
You simply cannot be aloof and connect at the same time. So, we must overcome the barriers that lead us to be aloof. Think of the scriptures covered in Part I. Every situation included barriers that needed to be overcome in order for authentic love to exist.
We protect ourselves by keeping people at an emotional distance. We avoid transparency because relationships can quickly get very real and very authentic. Yet, when we refuse to be aloof and instead choose to be authentic, we find that the risk taken pales in comparison to the blessing received in a relationship where authentic love flourishes.
Why Authentic Love?
So why love each other deeply? Why is this important “above all”? Let’s look at the second half of 2 Peter 4:8 for the answers.
“Because love covers a multitude of sins.”
If you ever wonder what authentic love looks like, think of Jesus. Jesus showed that the foundation for authentic love involves showing grace and forgiveness rather than condemnation.
Authentic love sacrifices self for the benefit of others. In other words, authentic love breaks down barriers and allows for real connection that creates deep and meaningful relationships, the kind that God wants to have with every one of us.
How to Love Authentically
After telling why we must love deeply, Peter then gives instructions on how to love deeply.
“Be hospitable to one another without complaint. As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:9-11)
As Peter indicates and as all of our scripture examples from Part I show, authentic love shows through actions. When you share your home and food with others, you show authentic love. When you use your spiritual gifts to bless another, you show authentic love. When you allow God to speak through you, you show authentic love.
And what’s even more exciting about showing this deep love – this authentic love – for others is that God supplies the strength needed to love this deeply and authentically. And, when this happens, God gets the glory!
Part III holds a challenge for putting authentic love into action. Are you ready?