Synthetic Vs. Authentic Love

Bible Pages

Written by Lanette Zavala, author of Marriage Vows Under Fire and publisher of MillennialEdge.net eMagazine.

How in the world can “true love” for one person turn us against another person? As believers in Christ, are we really able to find God-fearing love within our hearts if, while we embrace some people, we shun others for reasons that God’s Word would not validate?

Experiencing divisions within families, cliques within churches, and broken relationships in which one person was chosen to love unconditionally while others were branded to avoid, I have learned that synthetic love exists right alongside authentic love –  everywhere.

Like any other born-again believer, I am learning more about God’s Agape love from His Word gradually – never at a point of complete understanding and never at a point of perfection, though I press toward that perfection as I surrender to the heart-cleansing power of Jesus Christ. I’m like any other believer abiding in Him. Having said that, I can add that I’ve learned a few truths about love. There is human love, and there is Agape love.

Synthetic Human Love

Have you ever been in a relationship that required or strongly compelled you to turn against someone in order to support the person with whom you have that special relationship? Did you honestly think that true love made you come to the decision of shunning one person (for no valid reason) in order to demonstrate loyalty toward the other? True love does not influence such a decision. Human love – synthetic love – influences such a decision.

This kind of love has broken up families, alienated thousands of church members who eventually left fellowships where they had once perceived as loving environments (and hopefully left for Word-based fellowships elsewhere), stolen spouses to spin off families in the appearance of pseudo-honor, formed cliques that give friendship a twisted meaning, and resulted in other issues that complicate life to the point where God has often become the problems’ blame during consequences.

Who can really count on synthetic love? You’ve got to keep up charades, appearances, and acceptable behavior in order to retain it. Don’t believe me? Mess up once or too many times and see what happens. In most synthetically loving relationships, just repent and embrace God’s truth; then, see what happens. A disassociation takes place.

People begin to avoid those who disrupt a carnal flow that once felt comfortable for everyone trapped inside it. Sometimes that comfortable flow is deception.  Sometimes it’s a co-dependent relationship that allows one person to wreck havoc on others who passively foster the chaos for the sake of a peace that really doesn’t exist. Sometimes flattery is all people can tolerate in relationships based on human love. I believe this statement has dwelt in the back of most of our minds: “As long as you tell me what I want to hear about myself, you’ve got a friend in me.”

Here is what synthetic love requires:

1)  Secrecy to cover up lies

2)  Flattery

3)  Formation and upkeep of pedestals

4)  Clique activity

5)  Disassociation from one in order to maintain association with another

Is there forgiveness for synthetic love and all the problems stemmed from it? Absolutely. God gave His only begotten Son as the Remission for our sins in order that He can readily forgive the sins of those who surrender to Jesus Christ in repentance. Through this loving gift, He empowers His followers to distribute that love, which we’ve experienced.

When Jesus explains in His Word to us how to love our neighbors, He gave an unfailing model that was a sure outline to follow. He said that we were to use our love for ourselves as an example of how we are to love others. “Love your neighbor as yourself” means love your neighbor in the same way you love yourself. (Mark 12:31)

Agape Love (The Love of God) Which Is Authentic

Jesus told us in John 15:13, “Greater love has no man than this: that a man lay down His life for His friends.” Primarily, Jesus was referring to Himself as He made that statement and as Himself setting an example of how His followers (born-again believers) are to love.

I Corinthians 13 is one of the most frequently read chapters when defining how we are to love others with God-fearing love. Paul very thoroughly elaborates in the entire chapter how we as Christ-followers love. We love in self-denial, in truth, in humility, in kindness, in simplicity, in hope, in forgiveness, and in perseverance. It’s a life-long lesson that we learn through triumphs relying on Christ and through failures from which we rebound in faith after loving in our humanly way.

Where there is opportunity to engage in the complacency, shallowness, and even elementary easiness of synthetic human love, can we dare to take the high road by choosing God’s Agape love that instructs us how to do so in His Word? Agape love within a believer never flatters, never deceives, never forces decisions on someone to choose “us versus them”, and never stops standing corrected on how to love. But Agape love may require distance with forgiveness while ensuring that the love does exist. Agape love may require a sharp rebuke where praise may have been the option – but the wrong option – in the face of an offense (like adultery, violent tendencies, or traumatic negligence).

Agape love can be tough at times yet always gentle. Dealing with so many people in our lives, there is no blanket solution in dealing with all problems in a Godly loving way. But because God’s wisdom accompanies His love, there are unique ways to deal with each person in our lives without setting aside Agape love in order to do so. We can continue to learn firsthand that It never fails.

Understanding The Heart Of A Hurting Wife

Marriage Vows Under Fire 1Written by Lanette Zavala, Author of Marriage Vows Under Fire Inspirational Love Story Series a Family Review eMagazine

Just like a husband, a wife has a need to actually experience the love professed to her. In most cases, demonstration of this love reaches her heart more effectively when it’s presented tenderly, verbally, and creatively over a far longer period of time than those moments during which sexual contact can occur. Her need for value can be shown in your affection, your sacrifice, and expressed interest in her intellect.

Over a period of time, usually after the honeymoon, marital problems can present themselves in various ways. Problems occur when needs aren’t met. But crises occur when these problems linger for too long or begin to form into more severe problems such as betrayal, abuse, and neglect. Genuine reconciliation can be just as challenging to grasp when a wife is hurting as it can be when a husband is shut down. But where the Lord made reconciliation a must in marriage, He made it possible in His Word.

Marriage Vows Under Fire was written from a woman’s perspective concerning a number of issues that preoccupy our hearts. The characters face in-law problems of co-dependency, infidelity, mental illness, co-habitation, domestic violence, and other issues that so many wives and single women agonize over. While the ebooks are love stories, they are also bold series of fiction reflecting our realities. Of course, life is not fictional. To deal with our problems in relationships and to minister to a hurting wife, Biblical solutions are needed:

1 – If you realize you’ve done something that has hurt your wife – whether you betrayed her trust or shut her down with a form of dominance – don’t just apologize. Express genuine sorrow. To apologize is to remove the burden of your offense from your plate in order that you can move on. But to express sorrow is to remove the burden of your offense from your spouse’s plate in order that she can move forward.

2 – On the same note of the above point, reconciliation from a problem involves more than the hurting person’s forgiveness. Have you ever heard someone make this statement? “I have already told So & So that I’m sorry. If he/she can’t forgive me, then that’s his/her problem.” This statement or even unspoken attitude violates a passage in God’s Word.

In Matthew 5:23-24, Jesus tells us, “Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” (New King James Version of the Holy Bible)

Forgiveness is a dominant message when reconciliation is discussed. But the other part of forgiveness is often missing in reconciliation messages. Reconciliation is approached from two, not one, angles that Jesus presents. Many times, when we’ve offended somebody, we fail to understand the depth of our part in reconciliation because of pride we harbor and sometimes even arrogance. If one spouse harbors an unforgiving attitude while the other harbors an attitude of stubborn entitlement to forgiveness (with no intention of reaching out to ensure security within the hurting loved one’s heart), which spouse is doing the will of God? Neither.

If you see your wife battling unforgiveness, which is a sin, Galatians 6:1-2 says, “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (New King James) Help her forgive you. Don’t stick your chest out patting yourself on the back for a few moments of effort. Is she sinning if she doesn’t forgive you? Yes. But persevere. Help her out of the sin with some tenderness and demonstrations of loyalty if that’s the necessary distance to go in order to reach her. Show enduring love and don’t require from her unconditional love if yours is fragmented by stubborn entitlement.

3 – Marriage involves traveling this life’s journey together. If you and your spouse are running a partnership marathon together, and your spouse trips and falls for any number of reasons, why would you keep heading toward the finish line by leaving your spouse on the ground to agonize in that injury alone? Do you know how many onlookers would be willing to tell you, in all honesty, how much of a nincompoop you’d be for that? Not many, if at all. (People don’t like additional problems and therefore shun correcting somebody in areas where it might really matter to somebody else.) Don’t sprint toward a finish line that can only be crossed by a husband-wife team. Lift up your injured wife and let her rest her weight on you.Marriage Vows Under Fire 2

Well, marriage is more than a mere marathon. And injuries do occur. Those injuries can be imposed by any number of offenses. But, with God’s Word, what are you willing to do to Biblically restore security within your wife? Especially if you had something to do with her inner wounds?

In Marriage Vows Under Fire  love story series, there are characters who represent a number of couples today sitting with their lips stuck out – not to kiss but to pout. Anger has set in, betrayal has resulted in resentment, and wounds have become scars. With so many reasons to forgive and to pursue loved ones for that forgiveness, the women of Marriage Vows Under Fire resemble many of us – wives and singles.

Marriage Vows Under Fire Series 2: Tender Rivalry is the second installment in this series.

What If We All Gave One Bag From Each Grocery Trip?

Woman with groceriesThe “most wonderful time of the year” is right around the corner. It’s a time when families gather around decorated tables prepped with feasts and around a bunch of gifts to distribute. It’s a time to curl up in front of the fireplace and rest in shelter from the winter. It’s a wonderful time for only a fraction of the world’s population.

There is another part of the population who will spend the Christmas holiday reflecting on past events that led to their hunger, or their homelessness, or both. There is an even larger population that is surviving – but just barely. What many of us tend to do in privileged American society is reach out to the poor during the holidays, if at all, and shut our eyes to their needs the rest of the year. Too often I’ve been guilty of this.

All of the above mentioned dilemmas can be remedied. Local food banks and mission centers manage food pantries as well as clothing centers that accept donations for free distribution – year-round. If a significant number of givers (those with hearts to give) were to make a personal decision to donate at least one small to large bag of groceries from each grocery trip to a local food bank or mission center, imagine the significance from the receiving end! With additional opportunities to donate clothing and other items that might not be needed in our homes, imagine the additional covering that we are providing others who may need clothes on their backs or necessities that they wouldn’t be able to afford.

Here is a blog where I’d like to offer my knowledge of centers that take donations for free distribution. But you may also know of places where donations are accepted. Please feel free to send your input in the comment section. (And as with blogging on any Biblically-based topics, you are also welcome as a guest blogger on this subject. Just comment and I can re-upload it as a blog.)

Second Mile Mission Center, 1135 Highway 90A, Missouri City TX 77489 (281) 261-9199

Timon’s Ministries, 10501 S.P.I.D, Corpus Christi TX 78418 (361) 937-6196