Fuzzy, Confused and Dangerous – What Is Love?
“Fuzzy words lead to confusing beliefs and practice.” A professor once said that in a class and it has never left me.
For instance, how would you define the word love? John Wooden asserted that love is the most important word in the human language. But what is love? What do we mean when we say I love pizza, a pet, a spouse or even Jesus? If we asked 10 people on the street we might get 10 different definitions and we might find some people who can’t articulate the idea because it is so diversely used.
Wikipedia made this comment about defining the word love: “This diversity of uses and meanings, combined with the complexity of the feelings involved, makes love unusually difficult to consistently define, even compared to other emotional states.”
Definitions are so very important because if we don’t know what we mean then even the most important words lose their meaning and therefore their impact. And words like “love” are so important because they are used so often by God in His word. After all, what does it mean when we are told to do “everything in love.” (1 C or. 16:14) What does it mean when we read that “God so loved the world…” (John 3:16). In these passages is the word love used to communicate an emotion or an action? And if an action, what kind of action? What does that action look like?
My argument is simple; we have to know what God means in a contextually comprehensive way and we have to know what we mean when we use words. We have to have concise and clear definitions so we are not confused, therefore confusing our hearers. God has communicated through words, words He uses so that we might know Him through Christ, resulting in transformed and godly life.
We can’t afford to be fuzzy and confused about God. For if we are fuzzy and confused about God then we will be confusing to others and confusion is not loving. As a matter of fact, it is deadly dangerous.
Additionally, when we have concise and clear definitions it is easier to teach by repetition for the purpose of retention and application. Concise and clear stick.
I have been working at this for my own edification but also for the purpose of passing along important truths to my sons and church family. By way of example, here are a few that I have been developing and refining:
- Love – Wanting and doing what is best for another person.
- Faith – Trusting all of our person to all of the person of Jesus Christ. Faith is surrendering all of our life to the one who surrendered His.
- Truth – What is real and right.
- Biblical Manhood – Gladly taking the initiative of sacrificial responsibility for all that God says is real and right.
- Integrity – Doing what’s right even when we think no one else is looking. (God is always looking – Proverbs 16:14).
- Discipline – Doing what right and beneficial when you naturally would not do it.
- Respect – Treating others the way you would want to be treated.
Of course each of these definitions require some explanation and they may vary based on context. I may also need to tweak them as I grow in deeper understanding, but the point is that based on what I understand of the Bible I know what I mean.
Do you know what you mean or do you live in fuzzy confusion and cause the same for others? It’s important that we are clear.