Don Edelen at Cerulean Sanctum writes about “The Jesus Love Revolution“. His post prompted Heather at free heart reflections to write “The word love isn’t mentioned anywhere in the Book of Acts“. These are both excellent articles, well worth reading.
I have little to add to this discussion. A few months back, I posted the following statement by Robert C. Girard: “If we fail at love, there will be nothing left.“
“Love” is not something that is “tacked on” to a believer’s life, like the perfect tie or just the right handbag. For a believer, love is everything. As Girard stated, if we do not have love, we do not have anything. Similarly, we cannot confuse this love with attraction (romantic or otherwise). Our love is not based on our response to the person being loved. Our love is not based on our own feelings. Our love is based on the response of the Holy Spirit toward others – the same love that Jesus Christ demonstrated toward us while we were still sinners (Rom. 5:8). God loved the world in this way: he gave. When Jesus came, he cared, he touched, he healed, he listened, he loved… he loved with more than his words. Though Jesus taught, people did not understand his teachings. However, they did understand his love.
Unfortunately, we are now known more for teaching than for loving. Actually, the church is known more for disagreeing about its teaching among itself than it is known for loving anyone – even those within the church, much less those outside the church.
If we are having problems loving other people, the problem does not lie with the other people. The problem lies with our relationship with God through the Holy Spirit: we are quenching the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. As believers, if we are not known for our love, then something is wrong with us.
Consider these passages:
By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:35 ESV)
So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. (Gal 6:10 ESV)
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8 ESV)
By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. (1 John 3:10 ESV)
Given the church’s history and contemporary culture’s attitude toward the church, we have a long way to go to convince the world that we love them. However, may that be our aim. May we demonstrate the love of God in such a way that the people around us cannot deny our love for them, even if they disagree with our beliefs. May our love be evident to all – especially those who reject our teaching.