Love is a simple word with profound meaning. In our culture today many think of love in terms of romantic or erotic feelings, and while this is one of love’s meanings from Scripture when love is divorced from the marriage relationship it becomes cheapened. Not only is love cheapened in the romantic and erotic sense but also in the relational sense also. In his helpful new book Loving Well (Even If You Haven’t Been) Dr. William P. Smith, Pastor, and director of the community counseling center at Chelten Baptist Church in Dresher, PA writes to “investigate fifteen facets of the love we experience from God because it is in these ways that he invites you to mature as you relate to other people with love. While there are many more that we could explore—and we will as eternity unwinds—these fifteen form a solid toolkit that, as you grow in them will affect the quality of relationships you currently have” (xxiii).
One of the reasons I think this book is so important and helpful is found in the following quote from the author, “The way I live out my relationships with people is one of the clearest indicators of how healthy my relationship with the Lord is. If I live knowing that God moves toward me all day long and invites me to move toward him, then I will engage people positively in their lives” (xxi). This is an important idea and one that I think many miss in regards to biblical love. Remember that God drew near to us while we were still yet His enemies by being the God-man, dwelling in our time and space, living a sinless life, dying a bloody death on our behalf, being buried and rising again. All of what I just said is vital to biblical Christianity, but what is often missed is how this relates to our lives. It is how the love of God relates to our lives that this book is primarily about. This does not mean that the author doesn’t flesh out the theology of Jesus work of love on our behalf, because the author does, but rather that he seeks to apply the work of Jesus to our daily lives.
The way we live out our relationships with others gives testimony to our daily response to the grace of God. In other words out of the overflow of our walk with God we demonstrate how healthy our relationship with God is by by how we relate to others. This is where the rubber meets the road in our Christianity. As saints and sinners we all struggle every day and fail in many ways in our marriages, relationships, and interactions with others. In my own relationships I am often unloving, unkind, and rather than serving others, I want to be first be served by others. In reading this challenging and convicting book, I’ve been reminded and instructed by the teaching and the example of Dr. Smith that the love of God alone has the power to break destructive relationship patterns so that I can more fully experience God’s love that changes me so that I can trade bad habits for real love from God.
I recommend every Christian read this book but especially those who struggle with distance, resentment, avoidance, or struggle to relate well to others. This book will help you to break free from destructive relational struggles and experience the love of God in and through your relationships with others.
Author: William P. Smith
Publisher: New Growth Press (2012)
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the New Growth Press book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”