By John Blase
Rock power ballads of the mid-eighties. Many graced the airwaves and quickly disappeared. But a few found their footing, took root, and endured. Now every time they pop up on the radio or a playlist, everyone stops and sings along. Good example––Foreigner’s, “I Want To Know What Love Is.” Something about Lou Gramm’s soaring vocals and that pivotal line just gets into your head and refuses to let go. Because, I mean, we all want to know what love is, right?
And while we’re pretty sure how Foreigner answers what love is, our experiences tell us that answer is lacking. It’s not necessarily wrong, but it is insufficient. Long before the mid-eighties, the apostle John penned lines that couldn’t be a more clear response to Foreigner’s cry.
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters” (1John 3:16 NIV).
On February 23, 2021, my dad died. In the two months that followed, my wife and I moved from Colorado to Arkansas to be closer to my 78-year-old Mom to help care for her as she navigates life without my dad. Absolutely nothing about this move and the days that followed have been easy. It has all felt exhaustingly hard, like laying down the lives we knew and loved for something else. For someone else.
Many people have told us what a valiant thing this is we’re doing, then they add a smile and an attaboy. Very few have said, “Gosh, I bet that’s just about killing you.” We’ve no desire for anyone’s pity. But it is encouraging when someone understands.
Dear Lou Graham, I can help you with your question. Love is sacrifice. Jesus did it first. He’s our model. And we, His followers, are to do likewise. We are to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters, for one another. In our current “me” culture this laying down our lives for one another sounds, well, foreign. It is—completely odd, possibly even bona fide bonkers. But, that’s what love is.