In my teens, I admit I watched The Bachelor and The Bachelorette religiously. It was normal and popular and attention-grabbing. All my friends watched the show. All the magazines were talking about it. What could it hurt?
I used to be confused when my dad would get mad at me for watching it, asking that I turn off the television. Saying it was filth. Saying it was trash. I never really understood that he was right… until I started to learn about what the Bible says about love and how Jesus himself demonstrated it. The Bible says in John 15:13, “No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends.” Now, that is a strong picture of love. One that I doubt we see regularly on television screens. When’s the last time these shows ever depicted someone laying his or her life down? Sacrificing his or her wants? Sacrificing his or her comforts? It seems like these shows do just the opposite.
Rather than teaching people what it means to love someone sacrificially, it primes people to love selfishly, sometimes without even knowing it. It becomes a game of tricking someone into doing whatever it takes to be the most desirable. Doing whatever it takes to steal attention. Doing whatever it takes to win. And it tricks us into playing along with them. We fall for it every time we refuse to turn the channel.
Finally, I realized that I was being duped by the deception these shows feed their audience. The real problem with shows like The Bachelor and The Bachelorette is that they illustrate a false definition of love. We watch these shows without first preparing our hearts and minds with what real love is. Then we let the show define it for us. We can watch these shows and be tempted to think love is by chance. Love is by fate. Love is fluctuating. Love is seductive. Love is manipulating. Love does what it does to get what it wants. Love is all about how you feel. Love is something you find. Love is something you try out with a bunch of different people. Love is a fairy tale.
But this is not love.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 gives us a clear picture of what pure love is. It says…
“Love is patient;
Love is kind.
Love does not envy;
Is not boastful;
Is not conceited;
Does not act improperly;
Is not selfish;
Is not provoked;
Does not keep a record of wrongs;
Finds no joy in unrighteousness,
But rejoices in the truth;
Bears all things,
Believes all things,
Hopes all things,
Endures all things.
Love never ends.”
This passage in 1 Corinthians is counter-cultural. It is totally opposite from anything we see on television, read in magazines or hear at school. That’s probably because 1 Corinthians 13 love isn’t easy. It’s hard to love like this 100% of the time. It’s even hard to love like this 50% of the time! But the Bible demands it. And so does God. Really, it’s more than just a demand. Nobody ever has an epiphany or a life-changing experience from a demand placed on them. But a calling…that changes people. That’s why loving in this way is more of a calling than it is a demand. God calls us to love. This calling is based upon His own love for us, that we might be a lighthouse in a darkened generation as it describes in Philippians 2:15. Loving in this way is the only way to shine that light. It takes commitment. Dedication. Persistence. Intentionality. But it’s worth it. As we love others the way that 1 Corinthians tells us to love, we become transformed as our minds are renewed in Christ’s likeness. We become different. We talk different. We act different. Our love compels us to put others above ourselves because we know that it is our honor to do so. And we discover joy in manifesting this kind of love. A calling to love changes everything.
Jesus demonstrated real love to us by laying down his very life! He sacrificed everything He had. He is love in the flesh. Who are we to not do the same. We complain when we don’t feel loved. We complain when we don’t yet have a boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, etc. We complain when nobody shows up for us. But this is because we fail to love first. 1 John 4:19 says, “We love because He first loved us.” So the only reason we even have the capacity to love is because Jesus gave us that capacity through first showing love to us! If we want others to love us, we must love them first. If we want to have healthy relationships, we must be a person who loves without expecting anything in return. If we want others to be there for us, we must first love others by being there for them. We must go out of our way, sacrifice our comforts, and abandon our desires by being the one who first imparts love to others. Even when we feel like it’s not working. Even when we feel like we get nothing in return. We keep loving. Why? Because Jesus kept loving us even when we didn’t.
As we embrace the very love-nature of Jesus, we embody the love of Christ in everything that we do, so that we can be the “fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing,” as it says in 1 Corinthians 2:15. It is up to us to show love to the world. It is up to us to show them Jesus. Then maybe, the world might be so full of His love that we no longer need to fuel love shows like The Bachelor and Bachelorette.
Questions for Today:
- How can I embrace God’s calling for me to love like 1 Corinthians 13 says?
- Have certain TV shows and movies been keeping me from clearly seeing God’s definition of love?
- What can I do to change that?
- How can I help others to know of God’s love for them?
“Give thanks to the God of heaven! His love is eternal.” –Psalm 136:26-