Have you ever wondered where love comes from?
If our atheist friends are right, love is in large part just sort of a trick our chemistry plays on us. It is simply a feeling generated by attachment or conditioning or evolutionary expediency. Imagine a little boy running up to his mother and crying out, “Mommy, I love you!” What would you think of the mother who responded, “Yes, I feel a release of serotonin in a conditioned biological response to my familial attachment to you, as well?”
I have a friend who on Facebook always tells people “Happy Birthday” by posting, “Congratulations on the completion of your gestation!” The point of the joke is to sort of take the romance out of the whole event.
What Real Love Means
It’s in religion generally that we learn that love comes from somewhere. Not from the right firing of the chemical lightning in the goop of our genes, not from the conditioned response to social attachments and the furtherance of the species, but from a kind of outer space, from outside of ourselves, from a place like heaven, actually. Most religious people believe love comes from outside of humans and is put inside of them. There are a variety of feelings about this. The monotheistic religions believe that love in some way comes from God.
But only Christianity holds that the one God is actually a community of three Persons who eternally and co-equally love each other so much that this love overspilled the bounds of their perfect relationship into the world they created to reflect their own love. And only Christianity believes that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, come to embody this love of God in the flesh and love his neighbors and love his Father perfectly, that he might bridge the gap created by sin between mankind and the Father, that mankind might have the Father’s love and that the Father might have the love of men.
I confess I feel a little breathless just writing that! And I think that’s kind of the point. I don’t think it’s right to talk about love in dispassionate, disconnected ways. Christians believe that humans love because God has put the capacity to know and give love inside of them. “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
We are made in the image of God, but Jesus Christ is the perfect image of God (Colossians 1:15). This is not only unparalleled among religious worldviews, but is offensive to many of them. But biblical Christianity will not shy away from this, because we know to have love that never lets us down, love that will forgive us forever, love that will sustain us and secure us and satisfy us, the kind of perfect love that is described in 1 Corinthians 13, it must come from someone who is perfect. And only Jesus Christ fits the bill, because only God is perfect.