July 07, 2017

The Centrality of Love

John 13:33-35

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

—  John 13:34

Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of the Sherlock Holmes detective series, wrote a lesser-known book called The White Company. It’s about English knights fighting in France during the Middle Ages—an exciting adventure! But readers today may wonder why the English knights were always looking for famous French knights to “cross swords” with or to charge at on horseback and “break a spear.” It was basically done for honor, and not particularly to fight an enemy.

That kind of honor may be puzzling for some of us to under­stand. Tim Keller, pastor of a church in New York City, conducted a study of various societies and learned that some ­societies are “honor societies,” in which honor is the main ideal. By contrast, in societies that are strongly influenced by Christ, love is the central ideal.

Sometimes we don’t live up to our ideals, but they are the goals we aim for. And we must be careful not to lose sight of our goals or get confused. For example, if we think that love is basically romance (useful during dating and courtship), we may wake up one day and realize we never knew what love is.

The essence of love is giving, and that will often involve sacrifice. Jesus showed this by his example. Love is costly, directed toward the benefit of others. It is not preoccupied with itself or with self-comfort, honor, or reputation.

Do we love like that?

Lord Jesus, help us to live for you and for others—not being self-centered but God-centered. Amen.

About the author — George Young

George Young, a native New Yorker, worked as a taxi driver in New York City before studying to become a pastor. Then he, his wife Ruth, and their children were missionaries for many years in northeastern Japan. They worked with ministers and believers from the Reformed Church in Japan to spread the good news of salvation in Christ and ­establish new churches. Now George and Ruth are retired and live in the northeastern United States, nearer to their children and grandchildren.

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