Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Is Love All You Need?

The Beatles certainly thought so!

Is what the Beatles meant by "All You Need Is Love" what the Bible talks about? I don't think so but we throw the word "love" about all the time and I don't know that we think much about what it means. Alan Knox posted something interesting today, a quote from Anabaptist martyr Wolfgang Brandhuber: From the Anabaptists: Brandhuber on love and obedience (for more about Brandhuber's martyrdom click here) . Wolfgang wrote, just before his death, of the importance of love. Here is the quote Alan put up:

 If we want to be one with God, we need to be one with his will (Christ Jesus). That happens when we tell him about our great needs and when we tell him that we love him. If we love him we keep his commandments because love—if it is love—comes from the heart. How could true love be anything but from the heart? And love continually seeks love, like the bride in Solomon’s song who can sing and speak of nothing else. True Christianity works on nothing but love. 

It needs no law because it fulfills the commands of God out of pure love and exercises itself in this day and night. It leaves everything earthly behind. It despises everything earthly to the pit, and asks: “Why bother with that?” It seeks because it loves. The more it loves the more it seeks to be loved—engaging itself to the Beloved One and peering out through the lattice work to watch him come from afar. 

All very true. But what exactly does it mean to love? Here is my comment on Alan's post:

Saying all you need is love is pretty easy but what does that look like? Is love simply being nice to others? Is it letting someone do things that are destructive?

I don't see this as an either-or proposition and based on what I have read from Peter Hoover and other Anabaptists I don't think they would either. Love involves obedience and obedience requires knowing how to obey. The Bible is chock full of teaching about what love looks like, how we should love, what loving means. I think we need to be cautious and not reduce love to an attitude of anything goes as long as we "love". I think we often mistake "tolerance" for love but we mustn't let the world define love for the church, as the church we must model God's gracious but also holy love to the world in our words and our deeds.

Everything we do should be done in love but not everything we call "love" reflects God's love.

For example, if you know someone engaged in a destructive sin it would not be loving to affirm their sin. Instead the loving thing to do would be to call them to repent and turn from their sin.The world says that is intolerant and hypocritical and unloving. I say there is nothing more unloving than keeping your mouth shut.

But wait you say! Too many people use that as an excuse to judge others! That is also true. That being true doesn't mean that silence is the answer.

The Bible is full of deep doctrinal teachings that are centered in the holy and gracious love of God and it is just as full of commands, exhortations and prohibitions. There isn't a contradiction here. The loving God who commands His creatures to love one another also knows the human limitations of man and provides us with examples and teachings so that we know how to love. God knew in His infinite wisdom that just saying "love is all you need" is a recipe for mischief and disaster. I mean we have a whole book full of explicit teachings and we still get it wrong all the time! I for one am glad that we are shown how we now should live as new creations in Christ just as I hope someday my children will appreciate what we have taught them by our example, our words and in our case by our mistakes.

1 comment:

Tejas said...

Thanks for that Arthur! So many of us sometimes break commandments with the mindset that "oh, he'll forgive us!" Thanks for sorting that issue out here!