Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Love Story Week 8: the love language of God

Last week Dennis and I were talking about Love Languages.  You know Gary Chapman's book The Five Love Languages?  According to Dr. Chapman, there are five primary languages that say, "I love you."  They are: acts of service, words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, and physical touch.

We all say, "I love you," in one or more of these ways.  And we all hear, "I love you," in one or more of these ways.  (And why isn't Food a sixth love language? I don't know.  It seems a very important way to say "I love you.")

For instance, I tend to speak and hear love through words of affirmation or quality time.  (I also like to receive gifts.)  Dennis tends to speak and hear love through acts of service and physical touch.

What if a spouse—let's say Dennis, for instance— is knocking himself out to show me he loves me by taking out the trash, washing and folding towels, fixing things around the house.  But what if the other spouse—let's say me—is wishing my husband would show up with flowers instead of a stack of clean towels, or put down the socket wrench and take a walk with me?  He could be screaming love in his language, but I don't hear it.  It's all Greek to me.

And yes, poor Dennis.  He's always showing up with a stack of clean folded towels, and I'm always like, "What, no diamond ring?"

I was thinking about love languages this week as I learned this week's story for Wednesday Bible study.  8 weeks ago, we began learning a set of Bible stories that all together show us a God who loves us, who had us in mind as the target of his love at the very beginning of time, and who promised to deliver to us a life beyond anything we could go and get for ourselves.  And God, who is the author of love, of course speaks all the love languages.  He makes trees and gardens and oceans and stars, the breeze that cools our skin and the sun that warms it.  He made our bodies and a delight for each of its senses.  He gives every good gift.  He, the maker of time, is prepared to spend endless time with us.  And we have a Bible full of his words of affirmation.  And in this week's story, we see that he shouts his love with the ultimate act of service.

Isaiah is the messenger who announces, "God is about to keep all his promises by sending his Servant, his Promise Keeper."

Who would've thought God's Promise Keeper would look like this?
There will be nothing attractive about him.  In fact, we will turn our backs on him.
He will suffer, and we will look away.
Isaiah 53:1-3

When God said to his people, "I love you, and I am coming to save you," they were expecting love to look like military might.  Love would appear as legions of armies.  Love would appear wearing a jewel-encrusted crown of power.

He will be beaten, and we will have peace.
He will be whipped, and we will be healed.
Isaiah 53:5

Instead, he wore a crown of thorns.  He brought them a basin and a towel and said, "Here is love."  

Here's the thing about Love Languages:  Whatever your way of speaking love is, you are delighted to do it.  People who say, "I love you" through acts of service don't go off to the laundry room sighing, "Ughhhhh, another stack of towels."  People whose love language is quality time don't keep looking at their watch or checking their Twitter feeds.  As the Apostle Paul put it, "Love compels us."  As in, "Try and stop me."  Or as Bob Goff puts it, "Love does."

He'll see that it's worth it, and he'll be glad that he did it.
Because of what he does, God's Promise Keeper will make it possible
for everyone to know and return the love of God.
Isaiah 53:11

Click here to listen to the story of the Promise Keeper, 
the one who made us able to hear and speak God's love language.

Who will you tell this story to?

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