Love Is the Difference
In Dr. Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages, he discusses the difference that love makes in a marital relationship. As we continue to use this book as a lens to discover Christ’s love for us, I review just how different His love is by comparing the anticipated expectation of love and the authentic presentation of love.
My Expectation for Euphoria
When I was younger, I used to daydream about my future husband. What characteristics he’d have, how tall he’d be, how amazing our relationship would feel. I envisioned the many ways he would take care of me, how much he’d appreciate me, how he’d love me. I crafted all these delightfully intoxicating expectations in my pretty little creative head. And I skipped blissfully into marriage, seeing my wonderful new husband as the man sent by God to fulfill my self-imagined, self-imposed prophesy of euphoric love.
I’ve never been more disillusioned.
Totally not my husband’s fault by the way. He’s pretty awesome. The kind of awesome that knows when you need a confidence boost and so he surprises you with a dinner full of everyone you love expressing their appreciation for you. The kind of awesome that works long 10 to 16 hour days just to make sure your family’s taken care of. The kind of awesome that will make you green tea and honey with sliced lemon wedges when you’re sick. And write you love songs just because. And take you on nostalgic bike rides and reminisce about what it was like to be carefree kids again. And twirl you around as you dance the night away.
That kind of awesome.
But my faulty interpretation of what he should be was based on the emotionally-driven expectations I thrust upon whatever unfortunate gentleman dare step up to the plate of my heart.
Sorry Chris. My bad.
All of his actual awesomeness can easily be overshadowed by my artificial aspirations.
But the difference between the expectations I had and what I actually experience is real love.
The Difference is Love
What I receive from my husband every day is love. Real love. Not always wrapped with a bow or covered in dark chocolate. But real love.
Real love is not what I expected it to be. I thought it would be safe. Steady. Wonderfully predictable, where I would know that fresh flowers were coming every other Tuesday and date nights were scheduled regularly. Where I could pinpoint exactly what kind of love would be shown in every different kind of scenario.
But Chris’ love is nothing like that.
Instead, his real love challenges me to be better. It causes me to seek the interests of others over my own. It calls me to get uncomfortable and come out of my shell. It cools my temper and quells my tears. It challenges me to be honest about where I am but hopeful about where I’m headed. It’s a real love that doesn’t shy away from the truth and dares me to redefine my idea of success and significance.
Most importantly, Chris’ real love pushes me to passionately pursue my relationship with God.
One of the first things that really stuck with me about Chris was the notion that he never wanted to be a louder voice in my ear than God. I fell in love with his humility, a different style of love that was more authentic than the kind I imagined.
His unexpected love continues to surprise me in ways that bring me closer to God, because love is the difference between staying stuck in a daydream and recognizing what is real.
Their Expectations for an Empire
The Israelites too were speculators just as I once was, seeking with great expectation. While they awaited the coming of the Messiah, they dreamt about what He would be like. They envisioned a king of politics and war, one that would fight his way to the top of a new Jewish empire. They awaited a ruler that would rid the world of evil and oppression.
The Son of David was expected to be a warrior, a giant slayer, a one-man army sent to usher in the very blessings of God through total annihilation of any opposition against the His chosen people.
Then the Lord will go out to fight against those nations as he fights on a day of battle.
Zechariah 14:3 CSB
They were anticipating the Lord of Armies. So when the Son of God came as a peacemaker, they were confused by His form of love and refused to believe that this love was what God had in mind for restoring their kingdom.
Therefore, when Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself.
John 6:15 CSB
God’s plan of redemption didn’t match the Israelites’ expectations for the Messiah, which hindered their availability to receive a different type of love.
The Difference between the Expectation and the Presentation
The difference between what the Israelites expected and what Jesus presented was a divine interpretation of love.
What they found instead of a warring lord was a humble Savior looking to extend mercy, promote grace, and establish love as the foundation for His Kingdom.
This Messiah is a spiritual King, one that defeats the dominance of evil with the power of love.
In The Five Love Languages, Dr. Chapman dissects our need for love through our desire for security, significance, and self-worth. And it’s true that the Israelites we’re looking for someone to fulfill these desires for them as a people.
But when God used Christ to fulfill these desires for all people through his new brand of love, they couldn’t receive the Difference because it wasn’t what they expected.
Christ presented love as the way to be fulfilled in God. Not through sheer effort. Not through lineage and inheritance. Not through battles and conquests. But through love. The kind of love that suffers for others. The kind of love that serves others. The kind of love that opens opportunities for others to come into the expansive Kingdom of God.
Love Makes all the Difference
“I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
John 13:34-35 CSB
Christ’s interpretation of love is radically different from the highly anticipated style of love the Israelites were seeking. This humble approach to conquering the world is so unexpected and so unique that it could easily be misinterpreted and misunderstood.
But as followers of Christ, we know that love makes all the difference. It is at the very heart of our needs and our desires. It gives us the significance we crave. It gives us the self-worth we seek. It gives us the security we long for. All fulfilled through Christ and his different style of love.
What kind of love did you expect from your spouse? What was the main difference between what you expected and what was presented?
What kind of love did you anticipate from God? How has that expectation of love been shattered by His unique interpretation and presentation of love?
Share your revelations below.