Love, in many cases, is a weapon. If not a weapon, then a bargaining chip. It’s something that we hold back, waiting for another person to warrant it. It’s ironic to think that we use the word so freely and yet have the tendency to be so careful with its reality. But Christian love is different. As Christians, we don’t wait for someone to show themselves to be lovable or worthy of our love; rather, Christian love is initiative.
What does the greatest command hinge upon? Love. What will be the defining characteristic of followers of Jesus? Love. What will never pass away, even after faith and hope are gone? Love.
Love is the mark of the disciple. Jesus said that “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35). Not our Bible knowledge. Not our our fasting. Not our stance on public issues. Those things are important indeed, but according to Jesus, the defining mark of Christian discipleship is love.
Simple enough, except for the fact that this word – love – has been so overused that it no longer has much meaning. Consider how many times you’ve heard the word love today. For that matter, consider how many times you’ve used the word love today. We “love” foods, sports, celebrities, puppies, and our moms. We love movies, nature, long walks on the beach, and everything in between. We are a culture, it seems, that is in love with being in love.