Love is important to the Christian faith. If you do not believe me, then just do a search within the Biblical text. Love is a subject that comes up a lot, and very rarely does it emerge as the feeling that we all equate love to be today. Love is something very different than a feeling or a word. Love is an action, and for the Christian, it is a general disposition that will lead to action. The great “love chapter” of Scripture describes love as virtue in action – “Love is patient, love is kind, love does not envy or boast, etc.”
How does love play out in the Christian faith?
A lawyer once asked Jesus what was the greatest commandment. Jesus replied: “Love God with everything you have – with all your emotion, with all your intellect, and with all your energy.” But what does it mean to love God with your entire life? When you love someone, you want their betterment above your own. So for us to love God, means that we live for his name and fame instead of our own. We live for his popularity and success instead of our own; for his triumph, status, recognition, and cause instead of our own. This is no different for God. We live for God’s name, fame, and cause.
Jesus added a few more words to his reply. “The second commandment is like it: love your neighbor as yourself.” We are to live in such a way that helps other people out. Not just the people we like, or meet in our gatherings, or workplaces, or homes, but everyone we meet. Jesus demonstrates the radicalness of this call in the Parable of the Good Samaritan. To love your neighbor is to act for the betterment of anyone around you by investing in their problems – to improve their physical well being while speaking the truth of God into their lives. Christians are the hands and feet of Jesus in this world, and Jesus uses us to help others as he did. But as you serve other people by speaking truth in love to them, you will push them off their balance, and as you do so, they must never doubt your love for them.
But why don’t we do this?
We all give excuses to not love people. Perhaps we are afraid. Afraid that we will get hurt, lose our comfort, break our bubbles, and not be able to control life. Perhaps we think we are above serving others because of our class or status. Or perhaps we are cynics and think that loving others will not do any good. The gospel reality is that when your control is only an illusion as you’ve never had it, and the hurt is a good kind of pain – like when you take a splinter out of your hand – but when we love others, we must do it for God’s name and fame – not ours, or Grace and Peace’s, or anything else.
Think about how Jesus loved and lived.
Go back to Corinthians. Paul says if he has everything but not love, then he does not have anything. Imagine what it would be like for you to be loving…. to be patient…. to be kind… not envying or boasting…. not being arrogant or rude… not insisting on your own way… not irritating or resenting other people… not rejoicing at wrongdoing, but celebrating in success and rejoices in the truth… Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things…Love never ends.” Jesus did just this.
Imagine if everyone was like this. Imagine if you were like this. Imagine if the church was like this. This would be an attractive agent for the gospel cause. To be loving, to love God, neighbors, and family, is to be living your life for the name and fame of God. Jesus said as much when he said: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35