Love is the fundamental quality of the Christian. Ironically, love is the hardest quality to develop, mature and maintain. Love is often the first casualty in any disagreement. When loves leaves, trouble comes.
A lack of love is directly responsible for violence, crime, domestic abuse, adultery, church divisions and every other social ill one can imagine. It is not an overstatement to say that all of society’s ills relate, in one way or another, to lovelessness.
Love is a choice. Love is not a feeling. We tend to equate love with those physiological changes which makes us feel something. An increased heart rate, a slight flushing of the face, a sense of bodily warmth and maybe even butterflies in the stomach are what we commonly associate with love. While those symptoms often accompany true love they are not themselves love. They are only symptoms which may or may not be present. Ask someone who has been married 50 or more years. I think they will confirm what I am saying.
This is made clear when Paul writes about husbands and wives.
“Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…” (Ephesians 5:25)
Christ’s decision to love us (the church) is the example for husbands to love their wives. While there is certainly a physical component to the husband/wife relationship the passage here is about a Christ-like love – a decision – exemplified by Jesus.
Love In Action
John often writes about love, especially in his three epistles. Notice the love requirement:
“Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling” (1 John 2:10).
“…whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God , nor is the one who does not love his brother” (1John 3:10).
“We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death” (1John 3:14).
“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. ” (1 John 3:16).
“If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother” (1 John 4:20-21)
Our point is that Christians are to love one another. In fact, this love demonstrates to the world the kind of people we really are (John 13:35). When we fail to show that love to one another we fail.
Love in Practice
Disagreements often arise in matters of faith. There can be no compromise of truth but there must also be no compromise of love either. When we disagree about matters of faith we still treat each other with the love Christ showed and commanded.
What does it say about brethren who call one another names and publicly joust by degrading one another and trying to enhance his status at the expense of another? It’s time to take a deep breath and love one another.
We call for love. We call for continued discussions of the doctrines we divide over but with love as a foundation. Anything less will surely sadden our Lord.