Some years ago a Christian singer/songwriter called Paul Field wrote a song “All That Matters” - it’s a song about that fact that, at the end of the day, if we haven’t learned to love we have nothing - that love is all that matters. It was recorded by Cliff Richard on Princess Diana’s tribute album after she died and he also, ironically, sang it on the National Lottery program on TV! You can see Cliff singing this song if you click here.
So, I was thinking, what's at the heart of Christian love? Jesus said, "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35). John said, "We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death." (1 John 3:14). And "This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome," (1 John 5:2-3).
It made me wonder what these scriptures regarding "Christian love" really mean? Is it a warm fuzzy feeling? I don't have a warm fuzzy feeling for everyone I meet, Christian or otherwise -- but a "warm fuzzy feeling" is not what the Bible means by "love".
A Pharisee once asked Jesus, "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law?" Jesus said to him, 'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets." (Matthew 22:36-40) He also said, "Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets." (Matthew 7:12)
Paul said that we should, "Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.." (Romans 13:8-10) Jesus also said, "Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful." (Luke 6:30-36)
I've come to the conclusion that Christian love is giving to others those things that you would want them to give you if you were in their situation -- and it's doing so even if they can't pay you back. In fact, it's doing so especially if they can't pay you back! Christian love is respect for others. It's mercy.
It's also very demanding - but it's how I would like live my life. I think I would like to come to the end of my life believing that I had learned to love!