With today being Valentine’s Day the over-under on “I Love You’s” is set right at 2.2 billion. People will say “I love you” via the spoken, written, sung, and texted word. If someone Wordled today “I Love You” would be in prominent, dominating font.
But, what does it mean precisely?
For a culture educated at the unprestigious University of Hallmark we are not really accostomed to thinking deeply about what love is. We just mindlessly say, “I love you” because it seems appropriate. We leisurely toss the phrase around (particularly on Valentine’s Day) like we are playing frisbee at the park. It seems to me, however, that for a subject as important and enduring as love that we might want to have a handle on it and make sure we know what we are saying and then actually mean it.
This is especially true for Christians. Remember, we serve and worship a God who says that he is love (1 Jn. 4.8). He is the source and truest expression of love. Everything he does is loving. Further, God has told us that we can actually know what love is by looking at the doing and dying of Jesus for sinners like us: “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us…” (1 Jn. 3.16). At its very core then our understanding of love must carry the gospel scent. It must be reflective of God’s love, particularly in and through the gospel.
What then is love?