Over the past few years I have become increasingly concerned with the ‘celebrity driven’ nature of our society. With the growth of social media, many people live their lives as ‘wannabe celebrities’. Selfies, tweets and posts designed to garner ‘likes’ take up so much of our internet activity and thought space. It is very narcissistic. The more we connect online, the less depth we seem to have in our real relationships. It begs the question, ‘do we know how to love well’? Love must be more than sharing a post or updating a status. So how can we love better?
1. Recognise that Jesus first loved us:
Romans 5:8 – But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us
True Love cannot be displayed until we grasp that we are not naturally lovers. Our sin nature is our default position. Selfishness is our first instinctive reaction. That is until we realise that Jesus loved us while we were still sinners. He took the initiative and made the first move. The significance of this is that love is pro-active, not re-active. Love does not wait until it is compelled to respond. It looks for a need and takes the initiative to meet that need. It gives regardless of an expected return. Love is based in truth regardless of opposition or difficulty. As we understand the true love of Jesus for us, only then can we give true love to others.
2. Consider a social media hiatus.
Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things
I am not suggesting we go Amish, but do we recognise that we may have become addicted to social approval? Love does not seek approval. I don’t see a lot of love of social media. I see a lot of bullying, self-absorbtion, protest and general rancour. We become what we consume, so it may be necessary to stop consuming social media in order to re-start a diet of consuming things that are lovely and of good report.
3. Spend face-time with others:
Proverbs 27:17 – As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another
That is physical face to face time. And we should spend time with those who build us up. If we have friends who are constantly negative, churlish or rude, it may be time to find new friends. If we want to grow, we need a support network of friends who will spur us on to love and good works. Furthermore, are we that type of friend to others. Do we build up and encourage others? It may take a change in our thinking, but we need to look for ways to support others rather than seeking self-validation.
4. Love yourself:
John 1:12 – But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God
I don’t mean in the new age way, but in an uplifting way. I recently heard this quote, “If someone else spoke to me, the way that I speak to myself, that person would not be my friend”. It is amazing how badly we self-talk to ourselves. The devil is having a hey day with it. Yet the Bible is full of Jesus love and validation of us as a person in His image and a child in Christ. We must practice positive self talk in the light of our identity in Christ. That will help us love ourselves better and more correctly. As we love ourselves, then we are healthy enough to love others.
My prayer for myself and my prayer for you is that we will learn to love well. May you experience joy and liberation as you discover true love in all its fulness