The Word is Love

December 28, 2019

I love The Beatles. Their great talent combined with their large catalog allows for all sorts of fun games. For instance, I have long considered challenging a certain fellow-pastor (and Beatles lover) to see who could come up with the best sermon series with individually titled sermons all inspired by a single Beatles album. It’s remarkably easy to match Beatles titles and lyrics to important theological concepts. And it helps that one of their most written-about topics is love.

All you need is love. But of course, money can’t buy you love. And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make. I love you, but I’m lazy.

Well, okay, not every line about love is deeply inspiring. But in the song “All You Need Is Love” a strong yet simple argument is made for the overwhelming importance and power of love in the face of all other concerns and endeavors. And yes, we might be tempted to quibble that love is not all we need–wisdom is just as needed, after all. But I find it instructive that we are given nearly relentless reminders in the Word of the Lord that faith alone–the elevation of truth above good–is the root of the downfall of every attempt humanity has ever made at connecting with and following God, and yet there seems very little energy behind reminding us that good apart from truth is also problematic.

Because it is. Good apart from truth is well intentioned but often foolish. Sometimes damagingly so. But the overwhelming and obvious thrust of the teachings for the New Church almost single-mindedly point toward the preference for truth over goodness as the main foe to be vigorously resisted.

The problem is that truth is easily turned to whatever purpose our hearts desire, whether that purpose be for good or for evil. Truth is graspable, studiable, manipulable, and yet powerful. People can use truth to control, to take, to bully, to injure, to threaten, and to punish.

But what of love? The good side of the equation is actually harder to twist, because it is quiet, unobvious, subtle, and, by many people most of the time, completely misunderstood. There are many great quotes about love, but one of my all-time favorites (easily top ten if not top three), is this: “People know that love is, but not what love is.” (Divine Love and Wisdom 1)

But let me tell you what love is. Love is the single most powerful way of growing a church. It may be the only way of growing a church properly. If you, like me, sometimes pray for the extension of the New Church movement to reach more and more people, let me gently suggest that you add to that a personal prayer: that you become better and better at extending true love to the people you meet.

“Love is old, love is new, love is all, love is you.” – The Beatles, “Because”

With love, Rev. Mac Frazier, Pastor

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