Am I the only one, or do others sometimes think that when Jesus said we had to love one another as He loved us, He somehow chose just about the most difficult thing ever to define our faith?
Jesus explicitly commands His disciples to love one another five times. Add to that Paul’s and John’s epistles plus Jesus’ sayings about loving our neighbours and our enemies and you’ve got a whole lot of love. Perhaps more than we really want.
Jesus seems very concerned with this theme, especially as the shadow of the cross looms larger.
Why is love so important?
I’ll give you four reasons. They aren’t meant to be comprehensive. Nor, should I add does the Bible ever explicitly explain why love is so important. The following is offered as a deduction from what the Bible says about love.
Firstly, love has a cosmic dimension. I am tempted to say it is a cosmic force or power, but I might be labelled new age for using that kind of terminology.
What do I mean by the cosmic dimension of love?
1 John 4.12 says God is love.
When we express love we are touching something that is deep within the person of God. Clearly that brief statement about God’s person stated in 1 John 4 needs a lot of unpacking – more than I am able to offer – but it does indicate that love and loving connects us to something deep within God Himself.
Secondly, love has creative power.
I know, I’m leaving myself open to the charge of “new age” once again. But love does have creative power.
We have power. We have power to build people up or tear them down. To encourage or discourage. Paul states in 1 Corinthians 8.1 that love builds up whereas knowledge puffs up. Knowledge makes us look good. Love makes others stronger.
Thirdly, love has cohesive force
Colossians 3.14 says And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Jesus says in John 13.35 that a community of disciples who loved one another would impact the whole world. In John 17.20-21 Jesus prays for unity amongst His followers so that the world would believe.
Unity needs love. Love protects the unity we already have in Christ. Love has the power to bind the church together and to keep our own lives whole and wholesome.
Finally, love connects us to God and to each other.
In John 15 Jesus says that we remain in His love if we obey Him , specifically His command to love one another (John 15.10-12).
The kinds of qualities associated with love set out in 1 Corinthians 13 are further testimony of love’s connecting power.
Without love, we cut ourselves off from the life of God. And we cut ourselves off from other people. Little wonder Paul maintained that all of the most impressive spiritual attributes are pointless without love (1 Corinthians 13.1-4). Absolutely pointless. Perhaps that’s why love is so important.