Is it true that “All love is love”?
Not everything that calls itself love is loving.
And what’s more, not all loves are equal.
Did you know that non-Christians can be examples of what it means to love others? As Jesus said,
“But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them” (Luke 6:32).
Even unbelievers love. Jesus said so. They can start charities, donate their time and money, and try to reduce the suffering of others both at home and abroad. As Christians, we do not need to downplay the reality of their love.
And frankly, did you know that Christians, both individually and corporately, can fail to live up to that minimum standard of love?
Did you know that whole churches can act worse than unbelievers? That’s why Paul warned the Galatians against biting and devouring each other (Gal 5:15)—because they could! How many other churches have “left their first love” (Rev 2:4)?
Sometimes unbelievers can love better than believers. But theoretically, that is a low standard. As I said, not all loves are equal. And while sinners love those who love them, Jesus calls you to a higher path. Consider these two “one another” commands:
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).
“This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12).
“A new commandment.” “My commandment.” In what sense is Jesus’ commandment either new or His?
After all, the Mosaic Law commanded love, i.e, “you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (e.g., Lev 19:18, 34). However, the standard for treating others was how you treated yourself. And while that wisely uses someone’s sense of self-interest to motivate altruistic behavior, it suffered from the limitation that abused, damaged, and sinful people often don’t know what it means to love themselves.
But Jesus’ “new commandment” changed that standard, didn’t it?
According to His “one another” commands, the norm for what it means to love is not how you love yourself, but how Jesus loves you! Thus, Jesus’ “new commandment” is thoroughly Christ-centered.
How did Jesus love?
Read His teachings (e.g., the Sermon on the Mount), but even more, meditate on the pattern of His life.
In some ways, Jesus’ love was refreshingly “ordinary,” such as when He showed it by simply eating with socially undesirable people. You and I can do that, too.
In other ways, His love was extraordinary, such as when He raised a widow’s dead son (Luke 7:11-17) or helped prevent the execution of the woman caught in adultery.
His most outstanding display of love was to die on the cross for His enemies (cf. Rom 5:7-10). Would you do that? Is that the kind of love that characterizes your church life?
Instead of saying, “All love is love,” the Christian’s standard should be, “His love is love.”