Lookin' for Love in All the Wrong Places

By Rev. David Wilson Rogers |  November 23, 2013

            In 1980 Johnny Lee recorded a classic country song called “Lookin’ For Love.” In the words of the song, the singer celebrates, even blesses God, for finding the one true love he had been searching for. Yet, his quest for a lover came at a great cost and with lots of failed attempts. Prior to finding her, the song laments that he had been “Lookin’ for love in all the wrong places. Lookin’ for love in too many faces.” He would search their eyes and look for traces of the one elusive love that he most dreamed of having. It is a really great country song about the disappointments and rewards of romantic love.
            The song resonates with people because so many of us have had similar experiences—and not just with our romantic lives. Love, in today’s society, can be a very elusive commodity and many find it a blessing that escapes our grasp.
            In the church, love is expressed in many ways. Our love for God, God’s love for us, the love we share in the family of faith, the love that binds us together as Christians, the love that we affirm and celebrate in the sanctity of marriage, and the love God calls us to extend to our neighbor are some of the most relevant expressions of love celebrated in the church. But frequently, even in the presumed blessing of the church, people find themselves looking for love in all the wrong places. Much like the lonely singer in the old song, they find themselves discouraged, frustrated, and longing for more.
            Part of our problem in the world today is that, in many ways, we are becoming a culture of seekers and consumers that are constantly on the quest for greater and more fulfilling love in many aspects of our lives.
            People seek out churches to serve their needs much as we look for a restaurant that will prepare food just the way we want it. People desire romantic partners to fulfill their needs much as we would expect a sales clerk to cater to our shopping desires. People seek peace, love, and fulfilment in terms of what will most benefit them. In all these scenarios, if (or perhaps more likely, when) the desired quest for fulfilment turns up short, people move on—new church, new relationship, new opportunity for fulfilment, new chance for peace, love, and tangible reward.
            At some level, we have all been there. Frustrated at the way things are, angry at what the world as we see it has become, disappointed at how our personal visions of what we deserve are not being fulfilled, the temptation to start looking for that satisfaction in all the wrong places increases along with our failure to truly find it. Worse yet, when the fear and frustration build to a critical mass, a common temptation is to enforce moral, religious, Biblical, or spiritual rules to make things happen as we see most beneficial. Tragically, the attempt to force love through doctrinal purity serves only to harden hearts even more. Ultimately, it is just another disappointment.
            Within the blessing of true Christian community that true love is found in Christ. Yet to simply say that is almost too cliché for many to fully embrace—and for good reason. Too often people misinterpret love by expressing it in terms of what it can do for us. Jesus Christ knew this when he called the church to love one another as he loves us and to embody God’s love in humble service to neighbor. Love is found in faithful service.
            Instead of looking for love in all the wrong places, part of the Christian message of hope is that love need not be looked for at all. Rather, love, (not to mention peace and hope) are found in giving love, rendering service, and opening our hearts to each other with grace.