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Everyone is searching for love, also known as the virtue of charity; we want to be loved and we want to love others. Yet people are hurting everywhere because of fractured relationships in which love is no longer practiced. This lack of love overflows into a lack of forbearance with one another in our society; it also escalates the tension between cultures and people groups. Instead of reconciliation, it prompts cancellation. Where can we turn to find hope and direction?

The word love can be quite elusive and confusing. Some languages use different words to express different kinds or depths of love. In English, the word love can be used in multiple and varied ways, from superficial infatuation or lust to mere affection to enthusiasm or devotion. We also use the word love in abiding and self-sacrificial ways, as in “I love my spouse,” “I love Christ,” and even “I love my enemy.” Love of this kind, when genuine, is a willful decision that will be demonstrated by conscious acts.

Ultimately, the gospel is about love—the love of God for an unlovely people, even those who have broken His law of love.

The Apostle John explains explicitly where love originated: “God is love” (1 John 4:8). Ultimately, love of this kind is a choice of covenantal commitment to the one loved and is evidenced by actions. God has demonstrated this kind of love to us in various ways: the very fact that God created mankind to love Him and enjoy Him forever was an act of love; when Adam fell, God’s not immediately destroying all mankind was an act of love. These examples alone bear out the fact that God’s love is like an ocean that cannot be exhausted. But even more specifically, God has revealed to us what this love looks like when we imitate Him and reflect His love. We know this from the Ten Commandments that He gave to us (Ex. 20; Deut. 5). Love is at the heart of the law, which is summarized as loving God above all and loving our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:28–34).

True love was further demonstrated by God when He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to rescue and redeem those who had rebelled against Him and betrayed His love. Genuine love was shown when Christ paid the ultimate price by giving His life on the cross to purchase for us eternal life and reconciliation with God. Believers who have experienced this love are called to respond. In other words, those who are saved by Christ and have had the love of God shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 5:5) are the ones who are to demonstrate this love to others. By doing so, we are pointing others who are seeking love to the place where love can be truly found. This demonstrates whether we are true or false followers of Christ.

Ultimately, the gospel is about love—the love of God for an unlovely people, even those who have broken His law of love. This does not mean, however, that we simply need to accept people in their sins, because God does not overlook sin in order to love but deals with sin in loving holiness. He is even willing to suffer wrong to show this kind of love. Therefore, the believer must speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15) and be willing to suffer as Christ has suffered (1 Peter 2:21). In doing this, we live as Christ has lived.

Love is at the center of our society, and it is the fabric that binds us together. Without a measure of the common goodness of God and some expressions of mutual love for one another, our society would collapse. But Christians ought to be much more than this—we are to be the primary beacons of love in this world. In Romans 13:8, Paul tells believers that we should “owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.” Therefore, as we see a lack of charity or patience with others in our society, as we witness a lack of seeking reconciliation in our culture, we who know the love of God ought to be the first to respond with eagerness in discussing and displaying true love. Paul’s words remind us that this indeed is our obligation, our debt. And we are to love not only our brethren but unbelievers as well. In a sense, this is the new commandment that will fill the new heavens and earth: love one another. Therefore, it is vital that we begin that practice now.



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From the October 2022 Issue
Oct 2022 Issue