We speakers of English are at a disadvantage when it comes to discussing love. We use the same word “love” to describe very different concepts for which the Greeks had different words. Even when we use the more specific word “agape,” words seem inadequate to discuss the divine force that is Christian love. But, here goes one feeble attempt. My journey is teaching me these three concepts that start with the last letter of our word “love.” Love is essential, evident, and enduring.
Love is essential
Moravians seek unity in the essentials. Certainly, love is essential. Jesus says this very plainly in John 15:12, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” Just one chapter earlier, Jesus says “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” So, love is not optional for us. It’s a direct order. It’s something we must do – even when it’s hard. Even when it’s our enemies (Matthew 5:44).
When challenged on matters of doctrine, Jesus said in Matthew 22:35-40 that loving God and loving your neighbor is the law in a nutshell. And guess what? Love also fulfills the law (Romans 13:8-13) and covers sin (1 Peter 4:8; Proverbs 10:12).
Love is evident
Love is not just an invisible feeling one has inside. It can be seen. John 13:35 suggests love is not only visible, but indeed the trademark of Christians. It’s the way we can recognize each other in the world. “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, that you love one another.” Love compels us to action and also constrains us (2 Corinthians 5:14). The love chapter, 1 Corinthians 13, describes in detail what love is and is not. It is kind. It is patient. It is not rude. It is not proud . . . So, love can be observed and recognized. As Moravians, we are compelled to exhibit love in all things.
Here at the Moravian Ministries Foundation in America, I am blessed to see love in action every day. Love compels ordinary people to make extraordinary gifts.
Love is enduring
Love is one of the few things that lasts. 1 Corinthians 13:8-13 says “love never ends.” The same passage names love as the greatest of the three things that remain (along with faith and hope). Proverbs 3:3-4 says “Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them in the tablet of your heart.” It is comforting to me to know that God has given us something that lasts forever. Something that can never be taken away. He has marked us with His seal of love that is essential, evident, and enduring.