What’s Love Got to Do with It?
Pastor Brian Chilton
Tina Turner popularized the song “What’s Love Got to Do with It” in the 80s. Turner asks a good question. What does love have to do with our lives? For the Christian, it has everything to do with everything. We are preparing for Valentine’s Day. Many view love according to the Greek term “eros.” “Eros” or “erotic” love is a sensual, sexual type of love. But that is not the ultimate type of love. Some feel that love is in the form of brotherly love in order of the Greek term “phileo.” But that is not the ultimate form of love. The New Testament writers recorded the words of Jesus with the term “agape.” “Agape” love is unconditional love. It is not an emotional love, but a love of choice. This form of love effects every aspect of the Christian’s life. As we examine love, it would behoove us to look at what has been called the “Love Chapter,” 1 Corinthians 13.
What’s Love Got to Do with…Politics?
Many evangelical Christians are engaged in politics, and rightfully so. Politics affects everything we do in our nation. But, we must remember that our first responsibility lies in our heavenly citizenship. I am staunchly against abortion. I believe that abortion is murder. However, if I lose the love that I have for those who committed the crime, I have lost my center of focus. Let’s read what Paul says in the opening part of I Corinthians 13.
“If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. 3 If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it;* but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.”Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation, 3rd ed. (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2007), 1 Co 13:1–3.
I am afraid that in our effort to stand against what is wrong, we have failed to show what is right. I firmly believe that we must stand for truth. However, if we lose the love that God has commanded us, we have become off-centered from authentic Christian faith. Liberalism and legalism is two opposite ends of the same beast. Liberalism occurs when a person focuses on love with no truth. Legalism occurs when a person focuses on truth with no love. They are both equally dangerous. The Christian should be both “salt” and “light,” standing for truth and love. We need to do this ESPECIALLY in the realm of politics. Remember, we are ambassadors for Christ first.
What’s Love Got to Do with…Apologetics?
Apologetics is a rational defense of the faith. To be an apologist means that you defend the faith. This exercise focus on the intellect and mind. However, if one fails to speak to the heart with love and compassion, you will lose the impact of what you are seeking to do. Paul continues…
4 “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation, 3rd ed. (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2007), 1 Co 13:4–7.
We can win a person’s mind, but if we don’t win their hearts, have we really won? Unfortunately, I have witnessed on Facebook and YouTube many debates that have gotten ugly on the Christian’s part. He or she will win the battle intellectually, but will lose the war. If we choose to engage in debate, we must not only prepare our minds, but also our hearts and spirits.
I know it is difficult. 95% of the time an atheist will begin to insult the intelligence of a believer, especially if they are stuck in a corner. It is natural for the believer to strike back with great ferocity. Is that loving our enemies? I know it is difficult, but we are commanded to show love to all. As Dr. William Lane Craig once said in an interview, “We should not try to win arguments, but seek to win souls.”
What’s Love Got to Do with…Church?
Church should be the most loving place a person could attend. Is it always? Not really. Many churches display the love of Christ in a powerful way. This is not to say that problems won’t arise. We are all still sinners saved by grace. Yet, many churches do not show the love of Christ. One church in particular that comes to mind is the Independent Baptist church known as Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas. If you base Christianity on Westboro Baptist, it would be like basing your opinion of a NASA rocket by a paper model of a rocket. The paper rocket may claim to be a rocket, but it has no power because it is not real. When a church focuses their attention on hate instead of love, that church ceases to be an institution of Christ. Christ told us that the two great commandments were to love God and love our fellow man. Those commandments take precedence over all others. Jesus even told the disciples that He gave them a new command…to love one another as He loves us. How is it loving to focus one’s attention on how God hates individuals? Let me add, that yes we should stand for truth and justice. But, don’t lose your focus of love while doing so. Paul continues…
8 “Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages* and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! 9 Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! 10 But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless.” Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation, 3rd ed. (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2007), 1 Co 13:8–10.
God has given us all gifts. We should use them to the fullest of our abilities. However, we should never seek to worship or receive worship for our efforts. Only one person should receive worship: the Triune God. No one else. I would dare say that it is when a person takes his or her eyes off of Jesus and places it on another that it is then when problems begin to arise.
What’s Love Got to Do with…Personal Living?
“When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. 12 Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.* All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.13 Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.” Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation, 3rd ed. (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2007), 1 Co 13:11–13.
“Childish things”…what are those things to which Paul refers? The word “nephios” refers to an “infant” or one who is untrained. This coincides with Paul’s thought in the latter part of the passage when he speaks of seeing things clearly. What are some childish things that we cling to while seeking to obey Christ? Racial prejudices, self gratification, and selfish motives are just a few. Let me remind everyone that heaven will be filled with people from all generations and with people from all walks of life. White people, black people, Native Americans, Indians, Latinos, Arabs, Jews, Russians, along with a multiplicity of other nationalities will be there. Let me also remind everyone that Jesus was Jewish. Since He was outdoors quite a bit and due to His olive complexion, Jesus may have been dark skinned. This is in stark contrast to the pasty, anemic Jesus you see in many Christian films. If Jesus were pale skinned, that would be fine. If Jesus had a complexion as dark as night, that would be fine. For Jesus, whatever skin tone He possessed, gave us life eternal. He taught us how to love. That transcends the childish preferences of skin color that some still maintain.
It may be that the “childish things” are other issues in your life. Whatever the case, may I challenge you to love the way Jesus commanded you by simply giving Him your “childish ways”?
As Tina asked, “What’s love got to do…got to do with it?” Well, love is NOT a second hand emotion. Love, for the Christian, is the focal point of his or her life. The love of God and the love of humanity should flood every Christian’s life. If we were to focus on this tremendous truth this Valentine’s Day and beyond, maybe would would see a change in our culture. Maybe then, everyone would truly know how love has everything to do with everything.