Almost Like Being ‘in Love’

Are you in love?  That’s an important question, and I don’t want you to dismiss it as being frivolous. If you’re married, I sure hope you can say yes to this question, but I’m referring to a love that goes even beyond that—an “in love” state of mind that every follower of Jesus is supposed to experience, whether married or single.

My curiosity about being “in love” was sparked recently when I found myself humming an old song originally introduced in the musical Brigadoon:

What a day this has been
What a rare mood I’m in
Why, it’s almost like being in love.

There’s a smile on my face
For the whole human race
Why, it’s almost like being in love.

As this song suggests, love will cause you to see “the whole human race” differently, not just the person you’re in love with. This should be a real challenge to us who claim we’re in love with Jesus. If our love for Him is genuine, there should be a smile on our face for people too.

But how can we go deeper than the world’s superficial concept of being “in love”—typically a phrase used just in the context of romantic or emotional love?

I decided to do a search on BibleGateway.com and found some fantastic “in love” passages. Here’s a small sample, including my observations about how the principles apply to our lives today:

“Walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma” (Ephesians 5:2).

  • Love is not just a feeling or even just a matter of words—it’s something we’re called to walk in and live out. When we do this, our lives will emit the sweet fragrance of Christ instead of less-appealing odors.

“God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:16).

  • Since God is love, there’s no way to maintain an intimate relationship with Him without abiding in love. And the word “abide” means that love is not meant to be a sporadic series of emotional, spiritual, or physical encounters, but rather a continual, unending connection.

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love (1 John 4:18).

  • Fear and love are mortal enemies. Fear tries to undercut love, but God’s love can destroy our fears. Let’s not allow fear to hold us back from reaching out in love to others.

“May the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another” (1 Thessalonians 3:12).

  • Our love is not supposed to diminish over time—it’s supposed to “increase and abound.” Is that happening with your love?

Of course, there are many other Bible passages about love. I even noticed this verse saying that “older men” (like me!) are supposed to be in love: “…that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience” (Titus 2:2).

So let me ask you again…

Are you in love?  If you still aren’t sure how to answer, I encourage you to take the LOVE TEST in 1 Corinthians 13 (MSG paraphrase). From what we read in the book of Acts, walking “in love” doesn’t seem to have been easy for the apostle Paul. But he realized its importance nevertheless: “No matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love” (v. 3).

What an incredible statement: Without love, our lives are surely “bankrupt.”

Paul goes on to give us a very detailed description of love’s characteristics:

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

Love never dies (vs. 4-8).

How did you do on this LOVE TEST? If you’re like me, you still fall short in many ways. But that’s another thing I like about the song from Brigadoon. Instead of saying we’ve fully mastered this thing called love, it only describes our experience as “almost” like being in love.

The LOVE TEST ends with Paul’s conclusion at the beginning of the next chapter: Go after a life of love as if your life depended on it—because it does.”  So true, Paul. So true.

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I would love to preach at your church or conference, be a consultant to your leadership team, or help your organization navigate the waters of transition. You can reach me at info@JimBuchan.com.

 

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Surprised by Heaven’s Serenade

After a hiatus of several decades, I decided to pick up my guitar again. The ramifications have been revolutionary…almost shocking at times. Although my singing and strumming are as bad as ever, the experience has caused me to make some unexpected discoveries about the nature of true worship.

On the most elementary level, worship begins with singing songs ABOUT God. Many of today’s most popular praise songs include the phrase “Our God…” In songs like that, we are singing about our Lord’s many great attributes, but we aren’t necessarily interacting with Him.

On a somewhat higher level, our worship must move into songs directly TO God. This is described in a wonderful line in Misty Edwards’ song, “I Won’t Relent”:

I don’t want to talk about You
Like You’re not in the room
I want to look right at You
I want to sing right to You

Too often, church services are characterized by lots of talk ABOUT God, but not enough genuine interaction WITH God. No wonder people walk away uninspired and unchanged. They needed a touch from the living God, and all they got was a history lesson instead.

Lately, I’ve been surprised by several other insights about the nature of worship—not just during church gatherings, but in my personal times with the Lord as well.

One of my recurring word pictures is an orchestra prior to a concert. If you’ve ever been early to such an event, you’ve heard the strange sound of the orchestra members tuning their instruments. Before they attempt to perform together, they must first make sure they’ve individually tuned their instrument to the right pitch.

The apostle Paul describes the church as the body of Christ, with uniquely gifted members who work together for the common good (1 Corinthians 12). Perhaps if he was writing today, he would also note that the church is meant to be like an orchestra, with a variety of instruments that can function together because they’ve been tuned to a common pitch.

Why is there so much discord in the church? Because we haven’t individually taken time to tune our hearts to the Master’s perfect pitch.

Recently I’ve sensed God’s desire to draw me into a level of worship I haven’t experienced for a long time. Beyond just singing ABOUT Him or even singing TO Him, I’ve been startled to hear Him say that He wants to sing back to us.

Yes, as amazing as it may sound, the Lord wants to SERENADE His people! The Bridegroom wants to sing love songs to His bride!

Wow. Do you see how revolutionary this is? It’s not enough even to sing songs TO God, for He wants to speak to us during our worship and sing back to us.

If you find this mind-blowing and hard to believe, I understand. But it’s in the Bible (and not just in the Song of Solomon!).

Zephaniah 3:17 says:

The Lord your God is with you,
    the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
    in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
    but will rejoice over you with singing (NIV).

The Message paraphrases this, “He’ll calm you with his love and delight you with his songs.”

Isn’t it incredible that the God of the entire universe would take time to sing love songs to you and me? Yet that is exactly what the Bible says.

Still not convinced? You can find this same principle in a number of the Psalms (e.g., 91, 95, 32, and 2). The psalmists begin by addressing the Lord, then He breaks in and speaks back to the psalmists.

Psalm 91 starts with He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” Adding to this beautiful picture, the text goes on to list some of the awesome blessings derived from living our lives in God’s presence.

However, in the final three verses of the psalm, God Himself breaks in with His own commentary and promises:

“If you’ll hold on to me for dear life,” says God,
    “I’ll get you out of any trouble.
I’ll give you the best of care
    if you’ll only get to know and trust me.
Call me and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times;
    I’ll rescue you, then throw you a party.
I’ll give you a long life,
    give you a long drink of salvation!” (vs. 14-16 MSG)

Not only does God want to serenade us, but He says He wants to throw us a PARTY! He wants to speak to us…encourage us…and even DANCE with us!

In the process, He will repeal “Spiritual Prohibition” and gives us “a long drink of salvation!” No wonder the early Christians were accused of being drunk (Acts 2:13-15). And the lovers in the Song of Solomon had a similar experience: “Oh, lover and beloved, eat and drink! Yes, drink deeply of your love!” (5:1 NLT)

So my friend, if you’ve found “worship” to be a dry and empty exercise lately, I encourage you to go deeper. Don’t stop until you’ve heard heaven’s love songs. Soak in the Lord’s presence long enough to get intoxicated with His love.

When your heart is tuned to the Bridegroom’s serenade, everything around you will begin to change. When you hear His love songs, you’ll have no alternative but to dance with Him.

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