© 2023 Warren L. Johns. All Rights Reserved.
“…Because of His great love for us, God, who is rich
in mercy, made us alive with Christ, even when we were dead in
transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”
Ephesians 2:4, 5
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
“Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
I Corinthians 13, New International Version
Well into Jesus’ ministry, He asked His disciples, “What do people say the Son of Man is?” Replies ranged from John the Baptist to Elijah, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.
Then came the big question: “But what about you?” Of the twelve, it was Simon Peter who replied without hesitation: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” The prophecy of a Messiah bringing salvation to chosen people had been fulfilled.
Honoring Peter’s spiritual perception, Christ responded: “Blessed are you Simon, son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father…you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church…I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. See Mathew 16
Christ’s prediction was fulfilled, when after His ascension into heaven, it was Peter who led the disciples in preaching boldly at Pentecost, and powered by the Holy Spirit, led 3,000 Jewish listeners to embrace the gospel and form the nucleus of what would become the Christian Church. Peter put his life on the line for his faith in Jesus.
Christ’s call to Peter had no implication that he had been given the authority to be first of a succession “Popes” but that he had been chosen to anchor the foundation of Christianity. While the early church had been seen as a Jewish sect designated “the Way,” Christ confronted the zealous Saul, a Jew of Roman nationality, to call him to carry the gospel globally, to the Gentiles. Peter and Paul joined spiritual forces in building Christianity until their martyr deaths.
John the Beloved, the last living disciple, banished to a life of isolation on the Isle of Patmos, foresaw a future time when the essence of the pure and simple beauty of the Christian faith would be seen in the lives of the saints who “obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus.” Revelation 14:12
Thanks to Paul’s I Corinthians 13, the essence of obeying the Ten Commandments can be clearly understood.
“…We are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor heights, nor depths, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus, our Lord.”
The Roman Empire unleashed its cruel fury in an attempt to crush the fledgling faith. Under the tyrannical reign of Diocletian, persecution became particularly intense from 303-313 A.D. When early Christians committing their spiritual lives to God, they understood the risk to their physical lives.
A welcome breather came when Constantine came to power and issued an Edict of Toleration. But this new intrusion of government came with a price to the Church. In a political move to bridge the gap between Christians and sun worshiping pagans, in 321 A.D. Constantine decreed that all citizens worship on Sunday, the Venerable Day of the Sun. A stage had been set for a drifting away from the sanctity of worshiping the Creator of life.
By the time Gregory stepped into the shoes of the Bishop of Rome in 590 A.D., the western Roman government had virtually collapsed, leaving Gregory positioned to combine secular power to his religious authority. The Papacy had been born. Intrusion of secular power led to a ritualized “form of godliness” and a dimmed vision of love.
God’s character of perfect love has been summarized in ten rules for happy living carved in stone tablets. Jesus voluntarily came to Earth to live a perfect life to help flawed humans understand the rich depth of God’s love in action. True love, empowered by God’s Holy Spirit, lives unconditionally, and forever.
Love-powered Christians become living sermons, intuitively preaching God’s love and justice in their thoughts, words and deeds. These dynamic, living sermons inspire uplifting changes in other lives, marking trails to peace and happiness. Love power controls the social environment. Love power exists as a living force, permeating every fiber of a human’s physical and spiritual being. Pure, living love motivates all thoughts and actions intuitively.
John the Beloved described end-time saints as Christians who “obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus.” Revelation 17:12 Jesus explained the essence of the ten commandments as love-based reflections of God’s perfect character.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it. Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Mathew 22:37-39
Paul’s I Corinthians 13 devoted the entire chapter citing specific examples of living the ten commandments.
“God is love; we’re his little children, God is love; we would be like him. Tis love that makes us happy, Tis love that smooths the way; It helps us mind, it makes us kind To others ev’ry day.”
Frank E. Belden
Photo: Chuck Nelson
A Children’s Hymn
“God is love,
We’re His little children.
God is love,
We would be like Him.
“Tis love that makes us happy,
Tis loves that smooths the way,
It helps us mind,
It makes us kind,
To others every day.”
The emotional legacy of a living, heart-powered love is more than a
noun, but a 24/7, living experience—it anchors human life.
God’s invisible gift binds families together.
A young girl volunteered to donate one of her kidneys to save the life of her brother. Awakening from the surgery, she is said to have asked, “Is now the time I’m going to die”? This wide-eyed, innocent, little girl so loved her brother she was willing to sacrifice her own life to save his. No greater love exists than a willingness to voluntarily lay down your own life for another.
Familial love is not taught or learned from a book. It’s inherent, locked into the human genome. In its purest form, it plants joy in the life of every family member. When corrupted, it destroys lives. An innocent child, deprived of family love and exposed instead to the toxic influence of a an evildoer parent, becomes a prime candidate for growing into an adult saddled with the credentials of hate.
Love triggers the joyous laughter of happiness and tears that flow spontaneously from the loss of a treasured loved one. While heart-wrenching sadness is an inevitable byproduct of deep love, the anguish and pain come with the comforting awareness of a family and the guaranteed eternal future without sorrow.
Love is more than a noun, or a verb, much less a ritualistic abstraction. Love, when endowed by God, is a living, breathing emotion of power that permeates body, mind and soul.
Money can’t buy it; governments can’t impose it; a corrupt human can’t fake it. Heartfelt love power is cost free. It’s a gift of God, available 24/7 to anyone who asks—even the most despicable excuse of a human is not beyond the reach of the love power of God.
Love power is God’s gift. God’s love, changes all lives that embrace the gift.