The Beatles make it sound so easy: “All you need is love.”
That looks good on paper, and it sounds good with a catchy tune behind it. But, let’s get real. Not everyone is as lovable as all that. Jesus once told a religious expert to “Love God, and love your neighbor, do this and you will live.” But the religious expert knew that isn’t as easy as it sounds, so he said to Jesus, ‘Who is my neighbor?’”
For as long as God has been telling us to love, we have been asking our own questions to find the limits and the shape of love:
How many people?
How many times?
How can love possibly make a difference?
Perhaps you’ve heard before that the Greek language of the New Testament has more words for “love” than English does. The Greeks had special words for the loves that exist between neighbors, dear friends and family members, and lovers. Interestingly, Jesus identified still another form of human love - one for which there was no word. Jesus added “enemies” to the list of those we should love. If we are flummoxed by how to love our neighbors, what hope do we have for loving our enemies?
For the next four weeks, I’ll be preaching on all these different ways that God has called us to love. I don’t assume “love” is any simpler a command today than it was when Jesus first gave it to us. Indeed, the year we’ve just ended was defined for many American Christians by questions of love:
Are refugees my neighbors, and does it matter if they are Christians?
Does Jesus really want us to love those who make an online spectacle of beheading Christians?
What does it mean to have a loving “friendship” when some of us have more than a thousand Facebook “friends”?
If you have ever asked these questions, or wondered about the point of love in the face of the overwhelming numbers and needs of the world, I hope you will join us for this month’s sermon series: The Power and Purpose of Love. We have some unique testimonies lined up for this series, as well as sermons that shine a special light on all the ways that we love. And through it all, we’ll show our own love for God as we sing God’s praises, affirm our faith, and offer our lives in service of Jesus Christ, who became our neighbor so that he could become our brother and our friend.
Love God; love people. That’s our worship, and that’s our call.
See you Sunday.