From the looks of my Facebook news feed, a new season of The Bachelor has begun. I’ve never watched the show on a regular basis, but from the portions I’ve seen, it appears that each season progresses with increasingly wonderful dates to exotic locations. From the moments I’ve watched I always find myself wondering, Who wouldn’t fall in love in these circumstances? I’m pretty certain I could enjoy most anyone’s company while sailing on a yacht, watching the sunset, or eating a gourmet meal. The wonderment of an experience can easily heighten our opinion of the person with whom it is shared.
A better test for finding love would be to set these contestants up in the mundane circumstances of life. Perhaps have them paint a room together or clean out a garage. Maybe set them in a situation where they need to plan a birthday party and entertain ten children on a tight budget. How would they get along while changing diapers or hanging curtains? Would love grow in the stresses and circumstances of a normal life?
As a society, we’ve become more enthralled with falling in love than keeping the home fires burning. We dream of weddings, not marriage. We’re more concerned with exhilarating moments than finding fulfillment in the mundane. What man can compete with a bachelor who has plenty of time to work out, money to spare, and who is offered every enticement to impress the multiple women knocking at his door?
In reality true love is experienced in the everyday moments of life. Jesus met with a variety of people as He went about daily routine. He taught Mary in her home, calmed the storm as the disciples sailed on the sea, healed people as he traveled from city to city, and humbly served each of his disciples by washing their feet. His love found expression in the mundane moments of life as he journeyed with others. He demonstrated a love full of service and sacrifice, not fireworks and fairy tales.
Love’s expression is patience and kindness, full of humility and hope. It is not self-seeking, envious, arrogant, irritable or rude. Love pursues the unlovable and bears all things. We give to others what we have first received in Christ: “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:10-11).
Romantic love is a wonderful thing, but it is secondary and dependent on a greater source. If the divine romance is neglected, our earthly friendships, families, and marriages suffer the effect. As C. S. Lewis said so well, “When I have learnt to love God better than my earthly dearest, I shall love my earthly dearest better than I do now. Insofar as I learn to love my earthly dearest at the expense of God and instead of God, I shall be moving towards the state in which I shall not love my earthly dearest at all. When first things are put first, second things are not suppressed but increased.“
With Valentine’s Day upon us, perhaps we, His disciples, should look less to spectacular experiences and focus on serving those around us. Who in your life needs an expression of love? Who can you serve in an unselfish way? Is someone lonely? Invite them into your home. Is someone hurting? Send them a note of concern. Is someone grieving? Call them and listen to their ache.
The greatest love available is not reserved for those who are dating, engaged, or married. Jesus taught, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). In a world that puts forth so many false definitions, expressions, and professions of love, the Scriptures provide beautiful clarity on the true meaning of love. Rather than place our hopes in earthly shadows, let us increasingly know the love of God that surpasses understanding and seek to share His love with others. Filled with His love, our lives will be joyfully filled in loving service to those around us.
Melissa Kruger serves on staff as Women's Ministry Coordinator at Uptown Church (PCA) in Charlotte, North Carolina and is the author of The Envy of Eve: Finding Contentment in a Covetous World (Christian Focus, 2012) and Walking with God in the Season of Motherhood (WaterBrook/Multnomah, 2015). Her husband, Mike, is the president of Reformed Theological Seminary and they have three children. You can find her at melissabkruger.com and follow her on Twitter.