More than 20 times singers rejected the song before Johnny Lee selected “Lookin’ for Love in All the Wrong Places” to sing in the movie, “Urban Cowboy.” It was never intended to be recorded as part of an album, but with the success of the movie, it was released as a single and sold more than a million copies.
The chorus includes these words:
I was looking for love in all the wrong places
Looking for love in too many faces
Searching your eyes, looking for traces
Of what.. I’m dreaming of…
Hopin’ to find a friend and a lover
God bless the day I discover
Another heart, lookin’ for love
Okay, the lyrics may not have the enduring quality of a Shakespearean sonnet, but it does accurately reflect the desire of the human heart to know and experience love and the tendency to pursue a variety of false loves. Yet there is one place every person may go to know fullness of love and never experience rejection. It is found, in fact, in one of the most quoted (and misunderstood and misapplied) verses of the Bible:
“God is love…” (1 John 4:16b)
We live in a time when we need to rethink what it means to love. Actually, we need to rethink what it means to be loved, especially what it means to be loved by God.
Because God is love, this chapter tells us,
- God is the source of all love (vv. 7, 10)
- God loves His people uniquely — giving them a new life (regeneration) — and those who are His live uniquely and differently from the world (vv. 4-7, 9)
- God does not love all equally. Those who are not His and do not love Him are not loved by Him redemptively, but instead face His wrath and judgment (vv. 3, 8, 17, 20-21)
- God manifested His love in His own people (v. 9)
- God manifested His love in His people by the sending of the Son of God into the world to provide life to His people (v. 9)
- God provided propitiation for our sins through the work of Christ (v. 10)
- God has given His Spirit to His people (v. 13)
- God dwells in those who are His (v. 16)
- Those of us who are alive in Him should also love others (vv. 11, 19)
Because God is love — because it is His essential nature to love — and because it is not our essential nature to love, there is nothing to do to merit God’s love. We say we know that, but the way we live often invalidates what we say with our lips. So let me say it again. If you belong to Him as His redeemed child, there is nothing to do to merit God’s love. No matter what you do today, God will not love you any more than He did yesterday. No matter what you do today, God will not love you any less than He did yesterday. His love for you is complete and full. It always has been and it always will be.
This is because the reason for God’s love for you is not found in you, but in Him. He loves you not because of what you have ever or will ever do for Him, but He loves your because of His choice of you. And because of that, we are protected and kept in Him.
R. C. Sproul says it this way: “The love of God is an expression of all that He is. His love transcends the petty and the fickle. His is a love that will not let us go, a love that fulfills its commitment. God does not divorce His bride. His love is as He is, from everlasting to everlasting, absolutely secure.” [One Holy Passion]
Live for God because He loves you. Don’t live for God so that He might love you.