But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. [Galatians 5:22-23a (NLT)]

hosta flower“I was lookin’ for love in all the wrong places, Lookin’ for love in too many faces,” sang Johnny Lee in the 1980 movie Urban Cowboy. Normally, the Internet would be one of the worst places to search for love but, according to my favorite online Bible resource site, some people went looking for love on line and were successful. Of course, they were looking for it in one of the right places—the Bible. Love was the keyword most commonly searched for by the 160 million visitors to their site last year. Appearing in 759 verses of the NLT Bible, it was easily found. Love tops the search list every year and the next four most popular keywords (faith, peace, hope and joy ) always seem to place somewhere in the top five. With faith appearing in 507 verses of the NLT, peace in 362, hope in 190 and joy in 333, the Bible was again the right place to find them all.

As also happens every year, the most searched for Bible verse was John 3:16, “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” The perennial runner-up was Jeremiah 29:11, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’” These are two of the most encouraging and heartening verses in the Bible and it’s easy to see why they are favorites.

Without a doubt, God and the Bible are the face and place to look for love along with faith, peace, hope, and joy. God’s Word is filled with words of comfort and reassurance, and we all want comfort and reassurance. Missing from the most popular searches, however, were words like righteousness, repentance, servanthood, surrender, worship, sanctification, justification, judgment, sin, obedience or atonement. Limiting our Bible knowledge to only positive and uplifting words and verses is a bit like eating the croutons but skipping the salad beneath them or eating the cheese but not the pizza’s toppings, sauce or crust—we’re missing some very important ingredients. While those unsearched for words may be less tasty, they are just as important as love, faith, peace, hope, and joy in Scripture. It seems that many of us come to the Bible more interested in inspiration than in salvation. When we come to God looking only for love and words of reassurance and comfort, we might miss the message of salvation, redemption and rebirth found in Jesus Christ.

And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment, so also Christ was offered once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him. [Hebrews 9:27-28 (NLT)]

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. [Romans 3:23-15a (NLT)]

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