‘All you need is love’ is a common line, written by the John Lennon of the Beatles, you often hear when people talk about love. We have all of these ideas and images of love as it relates to the media, our music, TV shows, movies, literature, etc..
The problem that I see with so many people today is that we have bought into what today’s pop culture is selling about love today. We believe that love is all about having the perfect girlfriend or boyfriend, who will be the perfect spouse one day. We believe that love can be jealous. We see love as irrational, and leading people to do just about anything in life!
In some ways this has lead to some fantastic movie scenes and songs. In other, more unfortunate ways, we have seen this ideal of love lead to heartache, divorce, broken relationships, and violence.
What if I told you that God’s love is different than that? Would you believe me? Ever think about what God’s love, or Christian love, is like?
I want us to get back with our scripture and see if we can figure out what may be different about Christian love compared with pop culture’s idea of love.
14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
The author, Paul tries to wrap everything up with this one sentence. After talking about all that we are to get rid of with our bad behaviors, after talking about all of the qualities that make us compassionate and courageous, he sums it up by telling us to clothe ourselves in love. Wear Love.
Why is this idea so important for us to hear?
Why, when we have seen example after example of love FAILING does he want us to love? And what does this mean that it will ‘bind everything in perfect harmony?’
Paul was not talking about romantic love, or what the Greeks would call ‘eros’. He was talking about Godly love, or ‘agape’ love.
Jesus would talk about Godly love as well on several occasions.
Jesus had some revolutionary ideas for his time when it came to understanding God and religion; can we all agree on that by now? We just went through some of them for the past few talks, and now are looking for what Jesus has to say about love.
The Gospel of Matthew mentions quite a few talks Jesus has about love. One of them is found in chapter 22, when he is asked about the commandments, or laws, of God. So someone asks, ‘what is the most important commandment?’
Now, we know that there are how many commandments; ten, right. Well, Jesus has a creative way of seeing things. For him, he sees these 10 commandments, and combines them to make just 2:
Matthew 22:37 37 He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the greatest and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
It’s pretty amazing really if you think about it. In actuality, there are 613 laws, or mitzvot, according to most rabbis that the Jewish people keep. Now, somehow, Jesus, knowing about all of these rules of cleanliness, ritual, holiness, etc.; he wrapped all of these laws into TWO! And what did both commandments have as the central focus, or verb, within them: LOVE.
Later on Jesus will put his love into action as he is faced with the ultimate expression of his faith. Jesus will ultimately be arrested for his teachings that challenged the very foundations of power, religion, and order within his world as a Jewish man living in Palestine. He will suffer beatings, persecution, jail, and ultimately death, and he is aware of this all. But before he is eventually arrested and executed for his teachings and life, he shares with his disciples some final words.
According to the Gospel of John, on the night before he is arrested, Jesus sits with his friends, his disciples, and says this:
12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.13 No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. 16 You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. 17 I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.
Wow! What an amazing thing to say! Jesus, knowing that his time was short, could have talked about most anything. What would you say to your closest friends if you have just one more night with them? Well, Jesus understood what was most important in the world: love. And that’s what he talked about.
‘Wear love’. It seems like such an easy idea when you first look at it. But if you really get into this idea; if we look at the words surrounding it in Colossians, in Matthew, and in John, we realize just how hard this can be.
Jesus would ultimately demonstrate the greatest act of love in history…and it was for us. Jesus would go to the cross in an expression of love for the world.
There is a word that we hear every now and again in the church, and that is ‘grace’. But what does this mean for us today? To sum it up briefly. We are loved by God, not because we are perfect, but because we are God’s children.
Jesus is God’s expression of love for us. His life, his ministry, his death, and his resurrection, are all part of God’s love for us. This is grace.
Grace is God’s love for us in Jesus Christ that tells us time and time again that we are made whole in God’s love.
This is not some pop culture love where we say we love someone, but then when things get tough we go on to other things. This is Godly love: love that endures. To borrow the words from our scripture, this is love that is compassionate, kind, humble, meek, and patient. This is love that is able to bear with one another and forgive. In short, this love is what binds everything together in perfect harmony.
So what do we do with such an amazing, life-changing message?
Many of Jesus disciples would follow his lead as they devoted their entire lives sharing all that they had with the poor and needy, and making it their livelihood to share the Good News with the world.
And what is their Good News with the world? The Good News is this: it’s because of God’s love for us that we are able to live our lives as agents of God’s grace and love for the world.
What I find so inspirational and amazing is how I see God’s love being acted out in everyday life. So often we hear these grand messages from church, but we don’t know how to do anything about it.
Now we have the challenge of living into this love. So how will we do it? What are some ways that we can live lives of Christian love for the world, just as Jesus did? We may not have to go to the cross, but we will have to sacrifice at times. Love is not always about rainbows and unicorns. But here is the great thing: Christian love is something that can endure. Christian love is creative in how it is expressed. Christian love is dynamic. Christian love is life-giving.
So how will you love? How will you wear love here today? How will you wear love when you go back home to your family, your friends, your church?
What an amazing story we have to share!
- We have been called and chosen as God’s children.
- We have been given the gift of walking in the Spirit.
- We have been given the gift of reconciliation offered in forgiveness.
- Now, what a great gift we have received in Jesus Christ. We have been clothed in love. Now it’s our turn to share this love with the world.