“All you need is love. All you need is love. All you need is love, love. Love is all you need.”
The lyrics to the Beatles’ famous song play like a soundtrack in my mind. A classic. It’s a catchy feel good song. Each beat like an anthem declaring itself to my heart.
Everywhere I turn lately, it’s all I hear. Love is the answer to everything. We are love warriors and we have hashtags stating #loveisloveislove, Madonna even chanting it at the end of her speech at a recent women’s march. “We choose LOVE! We choose Love! We choose Love!!!!” She screams this into the very same microphone that only moments before amplified her thoughts of blowing up the White House.
And I wonder….Is this really all we need? Is this the love we need? If we just chant the word enough, or if we scream it loudly from a microphone, or maybe if we hashtag it to death, will something change then? Will the word love be enough to heal our our broken hearts? our communities? our country?
It seems as though love has taken on a loftiness about it as of late. Tenuous in nature, it is sweeping across our nation making unsubstantiated claims. It has become an abstract, vaporous idea that invites people to adhere their own personal definitions to it. Suddenly, love can be whatever you’d like it to be. And while this idea presents itself as being inclusive and freeing, I believe it does us a disservice. How can we all claim that love is the answer when our definition of love is so vastly different from one another?
It feels to me like the word love has taken on the properties of a chameleon, changing its definition to blend into its surroundings.
Even in Christian circles, the word love has been touted to rally people together for a cause. And sometimes, just for personal agenda. It has lost its meaning in a world saturated with muddied definitions. Oh, don’t get me wrong, love is really all we need. But perhaps a clearer understanding of the word is what is really needed. Because there is only one love that can bring true freedom and healing.
The world’s greatest love story ever told is one that includes us. John 3:16, “For God so loved the world…” It’s in the pages of this great love story where we discover what true love really is.
The Bible tells us that love is very patient & kind. Never jealous or envious, never boastful or proud. Never haughty or selfish or rude. Love doesn’t demand its own way. It’s not irritable or touchy. It does not hold grudges and will hardly even notice when others do it wrong. It is never glad about injustice, but rejoices whenever truth wins out. (1 Corinthians 13)
The Biblical definition of love is not a formless fluidity that changes its shape and meaning on a whim. Nor is it a self-serving idea that is used to manipulate people or things to our advantage. It is not something that if we just dig deep enough into ourselves that we can unearth and it’s not something that the universe is calling us to.
Love- true authentic love, the kind that can heal individual hearts and change the landscape of a nation is…
born of human flesh, torn and bruised for us.
It is bloodied and beaten and given freely while we are yet sinners.
It is weighty, substantial and concrete.
It’s a love that we can depend on. A strong, selfless, sacrificial love that comes from God, who is himself love.
1 John 4:7 says, “Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God.” I love how the author here uses the words continue to love. It’s a reminder to us that it’s an ongoing process. We must continue on in the love that He gives us as we extend it to those around us. Whether we agree or disagree, we must continue to love. Whether we are experiencing warm fuzzies or cool indifference, our call is to love. Whether it’s to our advantage or our disadvantage, our job is to continue on in love. So how exactly are we supposed to do this? We can’t. Not by ourselves and not in our own strength.
It’s only through him that we can love at all. Love doesn’t come from just chanting words or holding hands or singing a song in solidarity. Love comes from God alone. “Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love- so you can’t know him if you don’t love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only son into the world so that we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about-not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.” 1 John 4:8-10
Love is God and God is love.
Perhaps a more fitting hashtag would be this: #loveisgodislove.
We crave love. We were designed by our Creator to crave love. So when the word love is tossed out in a passionate speech, people cling to it like a life preserver. We want to believe it will save us, that it will free us and that it will set everything right. We hope and long for something like love to come along and pick up all the broken pieces and put them back together. We are desperate for love because we are desperate for God.
His love is the only love that can do all of that! His love saves, redeems, restores and frees. It’s nothing we can muster up on our own. It’s not some lofty notion floating around in the universe. It was birthed in the heart of God and is offered to all. His love for you, for me, and for anyone who is willing to believe is the greatest love story ever told.