Love is one of the most sought after and needed things among the human race. Studies have shown that babies who are depraved of love actually experience long lasting physical, emotional, psychological and physiological damage. This was clearly evidenced by some information compiled by Rene Spitz. In a South American orphanage, Spitz observed and recorded what happened to 97 children who were deprived of emotional and physical contact with others. Because of a lack of funds, there was not enough staff to adequately care for these children, ages 3 months to 3 years old. Nurses changed diapers and fed and bathed the children. But there was little time to hold, cuddle, and talk to them as a mother would. After three months many of them showed signs of abnormality. Besides a loss of appetite and being unable to sleep well, many of the children lay with a vacant expression in their eyes. After five months, serious deterioration set in. They lay whimpering, with troubled and twisted faces. Often, when a doctor or nurse would pick up an infant, it would scream in terror. Twenty seven, almost one third, of the children died the first year, but not from lack of food or health care. They died of a lack of touch and emotional nurture. Seven more died the second year for the same reason. Only twenty one of the 97 children survived, most suffering serious psychological damage. Love isn’t a luxury it’s a necessity.
Unfortunately, love is also one of the most misunderstood and ill defined notions within humanity. I came across a story in Reader’s Digest this week of just such a mistaken understanding of love. A young man was attending a junior stock show when a grand-champion lamb, owned by a little girl, was being auctioned. As the bids reached five dollars per pound, the little girl, standing beside the lamb in the arena, began to cry. At ten dollars, the tears were streaming down her face and she clasped her arms tightly around the lamb’s neck. The higher the bids rose, the more she cried. Finally, a local businessman bought the lamb for more than $1000, but then announced that he was donating it to the little girl. The crowd applauded and cheered. Months later, the young man was judging some statewide essays when he came across one from a girl who told about the time her grand-champion lamb had been auctioned. “The prices began to get so high during the bidding,” she wrote, “that I started to cry from happiness.” She continued with: “The man who bought the lamb for so much more than I ever dreamed I would get returned the lamb to me, and when I got home, Daddy barbecued the lamb—and it was really delicious.” Everything we perceive as love isn’t necessarily.
In the words of Johnny Lee, “[We are] lookin’ for love in all the wrong places, lookin’ for love in too many places.” If most of were asked to give a definition of love we would hem and haw around a little, stumble and stammer a little more and then come up with some definition that was a conglomeration of clichés like, “love is a warm fuzzy,” and “love is never needing to say I’m sorry.” But regardless of most of the definitions we give, eventually we recognize that they fall short of what love really is. We see what we think to be love carried out but then realize it has fallen short of what we sense to be love, but still we can’t seem to get our arms around.
John, one of Jesus’ disciples, wrote centuries ago that God is love. I would say that most of us have heard this phrase at least one time in our lifetime, but have we really let it sink in? This is a statement about who God is within Himself. Love originates in God and perfect love is supremely expressed in Him. This is the love we are looking for! But, as with any of us, this is something that we cannot know about God, or know at all, unless He reveals it to us. Fortunately John also tells us that God has shown His love to us through giving His Son, the object of His eternal love, to forgive us of our sins. In this great act of forgiveness God reveals to us the greatest expression of love the world has ever known. And it is right here in front of us. Unfortunately, we are constantly rejecting, reinterpreting, and redefining this love and accepting crumby counterfeits in a futile search for this love that God is openly offering to us. It’s as if we are walking through life and at every turn God is offering us the very love we are so desperately searching for, but we are so focused on the phony fabrications that we miss it at every turn. Looking for love? If you are not looking to Jesus Christ and the forgiveness He offers at the cross then you are most assuredly looking in all the wrong places.