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Love Is a Verb
There's something in us that craves a relationship with that one special someone who knows us like no one else. We want that one person we can share life with, do life with ... and finish life with.
I believe that this longing we all seem to have is just the thumbprint of God on our souls. It's a desire God placed in us, as part of our being created in his image. It makes us want to fall in love and stay in love with one person forever.
The falling in love part is easy enough-most of us have done it a number of times. But the staying in love ... now that's another matter.
Glancing around at the marriages we know, and taking in what our culture tells us, we don't find much, if any, evidence for the kind of long-lasting relationships we crave.
So the question haunts us: Is staying in love even possible?
Think about the marriages of people you know best. What elements contributed to failed marriages? What elements contributed to lasting, long-term marriages?
For Session 1 of the DVD
It's a fascinating question, profoundly important, and one that we all ask at some point: Is it possible for a husband and wife to stay in love-to stay happy together forever?
In spite of the troubled marriages we see all around us, most of us would answer, "Yes, it's possible." We even hold out hope that it's possible for us, a hope that reflects something of the image of God in us. We want a marriage where we as a couple finish together, and finish strong.
Yes, we affirm, it must be possible! But we aren't so sure that it is probable. We have our doubts about that.
Falling in love has never been easier, thanks in part to today's electronic social networking; but staying in love has never been more difficult. Few of us have been able to closely observe a fully healthy, romantic marriage relationship, and today's relational "rules" are self-centered and manipulative.
Meanwhile, the standards of what we expect from a relationship are as high as ever-we want massive doses of respect, encouragement, comfort, security, support, acceptance, approval, appreciation, attention, and affection. We come into a marriage feeling our own deficits in many of these areas, and expecting our spouse to make up for them.
Moreover, our culture has a very low threshold of relational pain. We're constantly told that if we find ourselves unhappy in a relationship, it's because we chose the wrong person, so now we need to abort that relationship and choose someone else.
Into that kind of relational chaos, Jesus has spoken. Two thousand years ago, he gave us the foundation for romantic love relationships that endure. This foundation is crystallized for us in the words of Jesus in John 13:34-"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another."
It's simple, yet counterintuitive. Jesus takes this word love-which we normally perceive as a noun, something we fall into, or a feeling we experience-and he highlights it as a verb. It's something you do, an active choice you make. And once you do, then the feelings will follow. Making love a verb is the foundation for staying in love.
And Jesus asks us to take our cue in this from him-from his own love as he demonstrated it for us.
Years later, the apostle Paul amplified this idea of active love in terms of mutual submission in a marriage-where each partner gives priority to the other person. Our model in this is Christ, who gave his life while submitting to us and making our needs his priority.
Excerpted from Staying in Love Participant's Guide by Andy Stanley Copyright © 2010 by North Point Ministries, Inc.. Excerpted by permission.
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