A suggestion for 2016: Take “THE LOVE TEST” January 08 2016
BCF has been conducting “the love test” as part of our courses for many years, long before the internet existed. I recently did a search on “the love test” just to see what would come up. As you might expect, almost all the search results came back with websites having something to do with romantic compatibility. There was the “quick love calculator,” the “numerology love test,” the “love test thermometer,” and “the love meter.” You get the idea.
In Matthew 22:35, a lawyer asked Jesus a question: “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” He did not ask this to genuinely seek an answer, but to test Jesus. Jesus responded with a genuine answer by quoting from Deuteronomy (6:5), “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” Jesus then said “the second is like it,” quoting Leviticus 19:18 “you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus here summarized all the commandments in Scripture, focusing on relationships, both vertically with the Lord and horizontally with fellow humans.
The central question for our lives as believers, then, is “how are we doing at loving?” The biblical love test begins with how the Scriptures define love, and we quickly find that it is very different than the romantic love/compatibility described in the internet love tests.
We see this from the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry on earth and as stated many times in the Word, such as Romans 5:7-8: “For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” This is an amazing, undeserved, unconditional love. It is the same kind of love we are to apply to our “neighbor,” who Jesus said even includes those who act as our enemies.
I Corinthians 13, widely known as “the love chapter,” is a poetic and beautiful passage about love. It is also an excellent source for our biblical love test, which can be brutally penetrating, while at the same time refreshing and hopeful. Students are asked to rate themselves on a scale of zero to 10 with respect to each characteristic of love, starting with “love is patient” (to which we are tempted to say, “why did it have to start with patience?”) A 10 means you love just like Jesus loved.
As we get farther into the characteristics of I Corinthians 13, the students have a chance to re-assess their “love score.” In the end, the students are generally laughing (at least on the outside) about how much lower their scores are than when they started. So it is fun, but at the same time painful. Those of you who have taken the test know what we mean.
The love test is a wonderful foundation for the rest of the Self-Confrontation course, because it brings Jesus’ two great commandments down to every day life. Patience does not come easily when other people are not cooperating with our plans, but God enables us to demonstrate love even in those situations. The love test is enlightening, as it helps us recognize that God’s standard for love is very high and that only by reliance on His power can we love the way He intended us to love.
The love test also highlights our propensity to sin. But we can learn from what the Apostle Paul said about his own sinfulness and inadequacy. In I Corinthians 15:9 Paul described himself as the “least of the apostles.” In Ephesians 3:8 he described himself as the “very least of all the saints.” In I Timothy 1:15, toward the end of his ministry, Paul described himself as “the chief of all sinners.” It was not that he was sinning more, but he was increasingly aware of (or sensitive to) his sin. As he grew, Paul also developed a deeper appreciation of the grace and mercy of the Lord. It was a sign of spiritual maturity.
So it is with us today. Recognizing how far short we fall can stimulate us to pursue even more fervently the two great commandments: love God, and love our neighbor. This truth is so simple, yet so revolutionary and powerful in its difference from the internet version of love. We have been privileged to see how biblical love can transform lives and transform relationships. May the Lord encourage and direct us in our ministry of love in 2016.
Additional Note: You can take the love test yourself, if you get the Self-Confrontation Bible Study Student Workbook. The test starts on page W7. The workbook accompanies the Self-Confrontation manual and will guide you through the entire 24-lesson Self-Confrontation Course. If you would like more information about courses and materials, you can reach us at www.bcfministries.org or call 760.347.4608.