Is Love All We Really Need?
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:8
In 1874 a young man, only 23 years of age, wrote a little book called “The Greatest Thing in the World.” The thesis of Henry Drummond’s work was that love is the most powerful force in the world. Someone may say, “That may have been true in his day, but it certainly does not hold water today. Things have changed!” I grant you, things have changed. That is one point no one will argue.
Our world today is full of electronic gadgets, chemical magic, space exploration, massive computers, and bombs whose destructiveness is measured in megatons. Today many if not most seriously minded people wonder if the love that Paul talked about in I Corinthians 13 really has much effect on society and our world. A great many in recent days have said that what the people of the world need is to forget themselves and learn the lesson of love. Is this really true? Is it really so simple that we can stop hating–whether it is our neighbor or a nation around the world–and begin loving?
I summon several witnesses who say that all the world needs is love. The first is an atheist, philosopher Bertrand Russell. Russell, who gained notoriety for his “ban the bomb” marches in Britain during the cold war, made the following comments at Columbia University: “The root of the matter is a very simple and old-fashioned thing, a thing so simple that I am almost ashamed to mention it for fear of the derisive smile with which wise cynics will greet my words. The thing I mean–please forgive me for mentioning it–is love. Christian love or compassion. If you feel this, you have a motive for existence, a guide in action, a reason for courage, an imperative necessity for intellectual honesty.”
The second witness is a British anthropologist and humanist with scores of publications to his credit, Dr. Ashley Montagu. He insisted that love is the only force that keeps the world from destroying itself. He says, “At a period in the history of the world in which men have turned their faces against each other, instead of turning the other cheek, these truths need to be cried aloud from every citadel of learning. Science shows us that the way to survival and happiness for all mankind is through love and co-operation.”
The question, however, that we all face, is, “How do we stop hating and start loving?” Bertrand Russell, who describes himself as an atheist, says that the answer is Christian love. And here is the key: Christ, Himself, said that the human heart is incapable of knowing what love is until one has found God. When the God who is love fills a heart with Himself, your outlook on life changes. The Apostle Paul said that if a man is in Christ, he is a new creature.
Let me drive it home. What is your problem? Love for those that work with you: people that are really quite unlovable–your neighbor who does not impress you as being the lovable type, your wife whom you once loved but now you are not sure? Start with yourself, by acknowledging your need before God, and then ask Christ to indwell your heart. Start with your problem, realizing that our old sinful natures breed hatred rather than love. An apple tree doesn’t produce lemons, and when you plant corn, you won’t reap turnips. The Bible says that God is love, and that’s where it begins.
Resource reading: 1 Corinthians 13:1-8