I trust you are having a wonderful Valentine’s Day with your family and friends. In our culture today Valentine’s Day is a day for celebrating love. Of course, this has strong romantic overtones, but it doesn’t need to. As Christians we can celebrate love in all its forms (including romantic love), but most especially the unglamorous love, the unconditional love, the love that compels us to serve others even when we don’t feel like it.
I think John Lennon was on to something when he wrote the song, “All You Need Is Love.” A quick read through the lyrics will show he wasn’t talking about love as a feeling, but rather the necessity of relying on the power of love, deep caring that motivates action, to navigate life, creating positive change along the way.
Love is patient, love is kind, it isn’t jealous, it doesn’t brag, it isn’t arrogant, it isn’t rude, it doesn’t seek its own advantage, it isn’t irritable, it doesn’t keep a record of complaints, it isn’t happy with injustice, but it is happy with the truth. Love puts up with all things, trusts in all things, hopes for all things, endures all things. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8, CEB)
This isn’t a guilt trip or a to do list. It’s just an encouragement to follow Jesus in loving others the same way that we love ourselves. (Mark 12:31) This love is not something we have to muster up, but is rather an outflow of the Spirit’s presence in our lives. The Apostle Paul refers to this in his letter to the Ephesians.
I ask that [God] will strengthen you in your inner selves from the riches of his glory through the Spirit. I ask that Christ will live in your hearts through faith. As a result of having strong roots in love, I ask that you’ll have the power to grasp love’s width and length, height and depth, together with all believers. I ask that you’ll know the love of Christ that is beyond knowledge so that you will be filled entirely with the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:16-19, CEB)
Loving your neighbor as yourself is the convergence of making space for the presence of God in our lives and making space in our heart for the concerns of someone else. The fullness of God rooted in love connects within us to the need of another, which empowers us to love as Jesus loves. This is just the flip side of “we love God best when we love others well.” We love others best when we love God well. All we need is love.
Grace and peace,