I was traveling on Interstate 65, heading into Mobile, when a car passed me with a thought-provoking bumper sticker. It simply read "Love Wins!" My first thought was, “That really depends on your definition of the first word.” I wonder how the guy behind the wheel understands the word “love”. In English, we have one well-worn word for love, while the Greeks had several words for it. They had a word for the love between fiends, love for close family and love in the sexual sense. Then they had the cu-de-graw of words for love, “agape”, God's kind of love.
I have been somewhat philosophical lately, so forgive my mental gymnastics. I started talking to the guy in the car in front of me. "Hey, what do you mean by love? How would you define the word love?" Do you define it like the Ancient Greeks, who saw love as eros, erotic sexual love, brotherly love or family love? (I know most normal people don't talk to the automobiles passing them on the interstate. I actually feel better about doing this now that everyone uses cell phones, because if someone sees me they are less likely to think me insane.)
The definition of love is critical to the bumper sticker’s truth. If it is a definition of any kind of love except God's agape love, it fails. God's kind of self-sacrificing love always wins. I once heard that all forms of human love can and are abused. The only love that cannot be abused is God's kind of love. It is also the only love that heals the abuses of the other kinds of love.
1 John 4:16 states, "And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him." Notice that John says; "God is love." I wonder, does love define God or does God define love? I was traveling another road earlier this year to a speaking engagement. I passed a church sign with a statement that was so wrong. It said: "God is Love and Love is God!" This is wrong because love cannot define God. That phrase is not theologically interchangeable. By whatever definition of love you choose, you can define God as a sexual god or a god of certain emotions. If love defines God, then you can make God into almost anything, even perverted things. We would not have an objective standard love with all of its depth and intensity, were it not for God's demonstration of love. God defines love.
When you doubt if anyone loves you, look to the greatest expression of love for you, the cross. Yes, God is love, and we know what love is and rely on it, because God demonstrated His love for us in this, Christ died for us. God is Love! I would not know real love or understand what little I do were it not defined by my awesome God! Yes, my bumper sticker friend, "Love (God's kind of love) Wins!"