There is nothing that is more powerful or fulfilling to the human heart than to be gripped by love. Nothing else fills us with the satisfaction and meaning that we get when we are tied in our heart to others and feel the irresistible drive to seek their joy and wellbeing. We can do a great many things in life. In the end however, if we are simply left alone with our pile of toys and trophies, we find that they really mean nothing on their own. Unless we have someone with whom we can share the joy, unless we have those who give us reason to be better and stronger people, the sense of fulfillment dissolves helplessly in our hands.
We are wired for love. We are built to rejoice and labor for the joy of others. Scientific naturalism will quickly chime in to tell us that this is merely an evolutionary byproduct – a characteristic mother nature programmed into us by mother nature to ensure the survival of our species. This is simply absurd. It’s like taking the middle layer out of a five layer cake and calling that one little layer the whole cake. Love involves all the hundreds of layers of our humanity, pulls them together, unifies them and gives them a direction and purpose.
Love is the ultimate freedom, though it constrains us more than anything else. It liberates us in the most profound sense by putting our whole being to work. My sweet wife. My amazing little kids. My family. My friends. My church. My town. Love binds me to these various circles of belonging and instills a deep sense of place and need. Strip these things away and you are left with gaping holes in your whole sense of identity. If no one in the world really needs you, you quickly find that the world itself doesn’t really need you. And if thats the case then existence itself quickly becomes lifeless. Though love costs us everything that we are, it also calls out of us all that we are. There is nothing more liberating than being wholly spent for the lives of those around us and seeing them do the same for us. There is nothing more liberating than knowing and loving; being known and being loved.
I think that most of us can identify with this deep thirst for giving and being given. All of us understand something of this satisfaction and of this need. In some sense there is a fullness of satisfaction even in the littlest relationships the we have in life. In the smallest moments of need and of giving to others we see the beauty and richness of love. And yet no matter how good our families are, no matter how surrounded and accepted we may be in this life there is also in all of us an angst for a deeper and more full acceptance. Good love is not enough. We need perfect love. We are always chasing to be more closely knit. We always need to find something bigger to give ourselves to. We need a cause, a person, a need whose significance far surpasses our own. The ultimate beauty of this drive that is placed within us is missing. We run, we climb, we chase, and yet we know that the thing which we seek is far outside our reach.
That is until, the one who has molded into us this hunger came into this world to give us himself. Though we have not been able to reach him, he has always been able to reach us. Though we have only loved ourselves, he has loved us. Though we have only lived to take, he has lived in this world to give. We cannot fill ourselves any more than an empty cup can fill itself. The personal longing for real love can only be complete in the presence of the personal being who has give us such a longing. It comes from the outside because it was give from the outside. And that is exactly what Jesus did. Without him, we are always walking around with holes in our hearts. His is the only story that hits us at our most penetrating need, and promises the fullest answer.