Love, No Power Greater
“But there is only one thing that has power completely, and that is love. Because when a man loves, he seeks no power and, therefore, he has power.”
These words are spoken by the character, the Reverend Theophilis Msimangu, in the the book, “Cry, The Beloved Country” by Alan Paton. A must read for Christians, I might add.
Christianity’s meaning and purpose is rooted in the power of love. That’s why true Christians ought not to be led astray by the siren calls of wealth, power, and fame. Christians, rather, ought to put all of their faith only in God who is love, the very force that heals all divisions, forgives all offenses, promotes moral character, and demands justice for the forgotten, the orphans of society, the widows, and the alien.
Take up your Bible today and read 1 Corinthians 13:1-13. In verses 1-3 you see that the gifts of tongues, or prophecy, and faith are nothing if they are not rooted in the only real power in life, the power of love.
In verses 4-7 we get a powerful picture of what love REALLY IS and DOES. In verses 8-12, we see that all the things we counted important in this life are as nothing in comparison to love. Finally, in verse 13 we see that, of the three great virtues; faith, hope and love, love is the greatest. Indeed, in the end, when, God willing, we find ourselves in the heavenly kingdom, faith and hope will no longer be needed. We will be in the Presence of Love Itself and that will be everything.
Now, read 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 again, and every time you see the word ‘love’ ‘or ‘it’, replace them with the word, ‘God’. This is the love that “has power completely.” We who call ourselves Christians must reflect constantly on this truth and we must work hard every day to learn to love this way, “Because when a man loves, he seeks no power and, therefore, he has power.” That is the paradox of our Christian faith. Because love is so completely other oriented, it seeks nothing for itself. Love of this kind is the only force that can bring about true justice, mercy and peace. It is a force greater than that of politics, economics, or any humanly constructed philosophy.
Knowing this, we Christians have much to think about. It is obvious to all that this love is lacking in the world. Why is it lacking? The fact is that though we believe in the love that Paul writes about in his first letter to the Corinthians, chapter 13:1-13, it is not being modeled enough by those of us who call ourselves Christians. We Christians have a responsibility to God, and to our brothers and sisters, to live our lives in service of God who is love. We know this is true, but we are also riven with fears about how we will be perceived, or treated for loving in the way that Jesus modeled to us. Our fears are real, of course, but we also believe that love truly is the power that can overcome all of our fears.
As I write this, I know only too well, how far short of this goal I fall every day. Like Paul I am frustrated with the fact that, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do…I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing because of my sinful nature…What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!.” (Romans 7: 1-25)
At the same time I hear Jesus saying to me, “Do not be afraid.” I know that God is with us. I know that every one of our names are written on the palms of God’s hands. I trust and believe that this Love has conquered all, even death, and that it is the only force that can. I know that God is on our side.
We Christians know the false power of sin. We know its momentary attractiveness, its pull on us, but we know something greater than this too. We know the love of God that was shown to us in Jesus. Only this love has the power to save us. It is this Love, and this Love alone, that conquers our sins, our fears and our weaknesses. May we all truly believe in this Love, lean into it more and more for support, and try to live our lives out of it more consciously every day.
When we do so, we must not count on receiving anything in return in this world, but our rewards will be great in the next.
Praise be to God!
Dan Doyle is a retired professor of English and Humanities. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology. To read more of Dan’s work, click here.