Hard to believe, but the idea of “love” has become one of the most controversial topics in America. How did something so universal become something so divisive? And what is the relationship between love and truth? I believe Christianity has a useful perspective to cut through the mess.
On the one hand there is “truthless love.” You’ve seen this. For a growing part of our society, the word “love” simply means “affection for something you like.” The defining feature of today’s version of love, though, is that we decide what to love and for how long. When something becomes unlovable we easily abandon it and move on. We trade in our spouses, our jobs, and our churches—you name it—for a better version. There’s no ultimate truth or stability in this kind of love. Truthless love cannot endure because it has no foundation beyond social convention or mutual agreement. Truthless love also really hurts. You probably know this from hard experience.
But the Christian Bible describes love as something built on the foundation of an ultimate, unchanging truth—the existence of God and his work of salvation for you. Truthful love endures, and actually fosters trust, which in turn finds expression in life-transforming deeds and habits. We know this not only because God described himself as love (which would be nice, but not really good news), but because he put his money where is mouth was and demonstrated that love is a commitment to the unlovable when he died for us on the cross. That's a truth worth cherishing; that's really good news because God demonstrates his love to us even when we don’t do the same!
But let's also watch out for loveless truth! When Christians (rightfully) stand up for what’s right and true we often lash out instead of reaching out. Loveless truth expressed with strident slogans cannot accomplish what genuine love has and will continue to accomplish. The Christian Bible urges followers of Jesus to imitate his example and demonstrate the truth in love. This kind of love breeds patience and endurance, both of which are healthy practices in an age where favor quick fixes over genuine solutions. You know what a blessing that is when you have it.
These are hard topics. They deserve your attention. I'll be tackling these topics in my preaching in worship at St. Stephen Lutheran Church in the next few weeks, particularly on April 24 and May 1. Our services begin on Sunday at 9:30am. I hope I get to see you there.