Quick, name the central, resounding theme of the Bible. What’s your guess? If you said love, you’re right! Maybe you thought the central them was God sending His Son Jesus to die for our sins. Well you’d also be right, but God’s motivation for this, was love. John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
When the disciples were gathered around Jesus they asked him, which is the greatest commandment? Jesus replied, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” Matthew 22:37-40 The two greatest commandments are for us to love. In fact, it’s here where we see the ancient Greek word for Love, agapeo or Agape. The word translated in English literally means unconditional love. Let that sink in for a minute… unconditional… no matter what, God still loves us. Romans 8:38-39 says, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” There is no separating God’s love from us. The Apostle Paul speaks so strongly about love in I Corinthians 13:3, “If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.” It’s in this chapter we find the eloquent portrayal of love used many times in weddings, in I Corinthians 13:4-8 and are told in verse 13, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
Love is such a strong, overflowing concept in the Bible that it occurs 697 times in the New International Version. Compare that to texts used by world religions, such as Islam, which mentions love (hubb) 69 times in the Koran. Of the 99 different names given to “Allah”, there are no direct references to Allahu Muhibba or “God is Love”. The Hindu religion has the word kama, but it refers to pleasurable (sexual) love as personified by one of their many gods. They also have prema and bhakta as references to love, but none of which reflect an unconditional love of god towards man. Buddhism has benevolent love, but it requires self-acceptance and is not reflective of a godly love. It’s only in the Bible where we read of God’s love for us. Take this to heart: The God of the universe loves you unconditionally! I John 4:8 tells us, “Whoever does not love God does not know God, because God is love.” All roads lead to the same God? You decide, but I’ll place my faith in the God of unconditional love.
I’m certainly guilty of holding back love from people for one reason or another, but why is it so important for Christians to express love to everyone? The Bible teaches us to “Do everything in love” I Corinthians 16:4 , that love must be sincere Romans 12:9-10, and even goes so far as to say “love surpasses knowledge”. Ephesians 3:19 But perhaps the most important inspirational message for us to love one another, can be found in a song from when I was a kid. That song had a chorus of “They’ll know we are Christians by our love“. What a powerful witness to those who aren’t Christians, that they’ll know us by our love.
I know with Valentine’s Day upon us, everything is all about “love” and we express that through flowers, cards, candy, and other gifts, but I just wanted to remind you of what true love is and that the Bible says, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” I John 4:10
Have a Blessed Day!