“Love never fails” (I Corinthians 13:8).
If I were to summarize what love means, what it implies, and what can be observed from it, it would come off sounding much like the oh-so popular Beatles song All You Need is Love. Truly though, when practiced, exercised, and acted upon, love is the reasoning behind decisions that the world would call entirely irrational—perhaps even the cross itself, for that matter. After all, what is the benefit of choosing to embrace those who persecute you? To serve those that spitefully abuse you? To venture into the territory of the enemy for the enemy’s sake? The answer is nothing, and that’s the point. Love’s intention is to benefit the object of affection, not the one who loves it.
I am reminded of October 1st, because that’s the night that Las Vegas showed the world what should be at the heart of a city: love for fellow man. People opened up their homes, drove as many as would fit in their car, and embraced total strangers. Some even lost their lives for others. At one point, city officials were telling citizens, “Stay home! You’re getting in the way!” The days and weeks that followed were full of blood drives, charity campaigns, vigils, and likely more prayers for a unified purpose than this city has seen in a while. For once, Sin City chose to put itself in selfless danger. This intolerance for inaction is the best image I can conjure up to describe love.
People often have lofty ambitions about how to serve the Lord: become a missionary, open a school, clothe the poor, or evangelize on every street they cross, but what was the point of Paul’s focus on love in I Corinthians 13? It was that without love, without that heart for others, there is nothing any of us can ever do to serve God in a way that will amount to anything.
Conversely, acts of genuine love can radically transform lives. Take Paul, for example. By all accounts, he had it all together. He was on track to become perhaps the most prominent pharisee in his community; he stood by as Stephen was martyred and personally saw to the persecution of the early church. Then what did God’s love do to his life? It transformed him into the most influential missionary in history, and his pursuit of love likely culminated with the loss of his own life.
There are two loves that ever rule in a person’s heart: a love of self (pride) and a love for others. When we choose to love others above ourselves, there is nothing, all the way to the ends of the earth, that we’ll let stand in our way. Our hearts won’t allow it. Love is the single most powerful force that has ever tread the face of this earth. Above all else, it saves every single soul that chooses to accept Jesus Christ. It was love that compelled the God of all creation to suffer, just to give us the opportunity to be with Him.