In honor of Valentine’s Day this week, I want to share one of my favorite stories…
I was once asked in an interview how I would sum up the Gospel. After thinking for a moment, this was my response.
There is a legend about the author of the gospel of John. Unlike his contemporaries who all died as martyrs, John’s author lived to be an old man with a large school of students around him.
Every day as he walked among his pupils, he would say to them, “Love one another.”
“Love one another.”
“Love one another.”
He would repeat this admonition every time he saw any of the disciples within his school. Any time. All the time.
Finally, one of his catechumens became so fed up with the practice that he replied, “Love, love, love, love, love, love, love. You are always telling us to love! Why!?!”
The old man smiled gently as he replied, “Because it is what my Lord commanded me to do. If you do nothing else, it will be enough.”
On the final night of his life, when he was at table with his disciples, Jesus said to them, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples” (John 13:34-35).
Everything else we do, anything else we stand for is nothing compared to this. Love is the Gospel, because God is Love.
Self-giving. Unconditional. Profligate. Empowering. Prodigal. Boundless. Always welcoming. Fierce as the grave. Complete. Justice-seeking. Wholeness-minded. All-encompassing. Everything we’ve got Love. That is the Love that God is. Period.
That is the God I stand with. The God Christ embodied as the only infallible Word of God. And the God I witness for by the grace of the Holy Spirit.
Which also means I stand with any and all who are deemed misfit, outsider, less than, least of, outcast, unworthy, sinner, and most certainly abomination by the world – and most definitely any and all who are considered such by the church. Because that is right where my Lord would be.
This is my declaration of love – for me and my house will serve the Lord. I can do no other.