What’s Love Got To Do With It?

Posted: March 1, 2014 in Uncategorized

“What’s Love Got to Do with It?” went up the charts all the waTina Turnery to number-one in the United States on September 1, 1984.  It was Tina Turner’s greatest hit single and anyone familiar with pop culture could sing that song right along with her.

The only problem is that Tina got it wrong when she said love was “just a second-hand emotion.” Love is often poorly defined. Ask the average person what love is and they will most likely agree with Tina that it is some kind of emotion. One dictionary had twenty-seven usages for love; there was only one usage that even came close to getting it right—“an affectionate concern for the well-being of others,” but that still falls short.

I’m not saying emotion is not involved with love or that love is stoic. We won’t lack for strong emotion if we get the definition right. Jesus said that His followers would be known by the love they have for one another (John 13:35). Surely Jesus meant something more than emotion.

Most people equate happiness with love. When happiness is absent, the assumption is that there is no longer love. Happiness is a very fleeting emotion. Watching our favorite sports team lead by ten points makes us happy. A few minutes later, the lead is gone and so is the happiness. We can be very happy to eat at a restaurant, but we can quickly become unhappy with the wait or the service. Happiness must be a second-hand emotion. But which hand is love?

Jesus made this point clear with the rich young ruler in the Gospel of Matthew. Matthew’s account includes the command to “love your neighbor as yourself” as one of God’s requirements. When the rich young ruler boasts that he has done that, Jesus tells the rich young ruler to go and sell everything he had and give to the poor. Instead of doing what Jesus said, the rich young ruler goes away with great sorrow. Why? It becomes strikingly clear that the rich young ruler does not really love his neighbor after all. He’s not willing to sacrifice or to serve those in need. He’s not even concerned about their welfare.

You know you are acting in love when you are actually willing to move beyond concern and towards action for another person, regardless of how you feel. That is why the greatest lover in history gave himself willingly for us by dying on a cross so he could give us the righteousness we could never possess on our own. If by nature we are the enemies of God (Rom. 5:10), then Jesus truly loved his enemies (Matt. 5:44) by dying a substitutionary death.

Love is not a second-hand emotion or a sweet old-fashion notion. If we are not compelled to action for another in need, then Jesus won’t be made known. And we must not try to ignore that love means less than action. For the Christian, love has everything to do with it.

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