In a lecture, one of the professors of the Master’s College, Abner Chou said “love” is a relational term. Now, reading that the temptation might be to say, “Well, obviously love is a relational term.” But I think that that is the very problem. Because it is obvious that love, if it is truly love and not a modern misuse of the word, is a relational term, it is often overlooked, forgotten, and the implications of the truth are ignored.
First, I would like to remove the term “love” from the twenty-first century uses of it and bring back to it it’s true meaning. Love is first of all not a feeling. The emotion in our heart when somebody we love is near is not love, it is a product of love. Love, then, does not negate the idea of feelings being involved, but those feelings, that rush of the heart, is not love. Do not mistake the effect for the cause! And a case against the pursuit feelings is found in the Romantics, who prove that feelings are unsatisfactory and the pursuit of them leads to self-destruction. This word has been cheapened in another way in the many times we use “love” to describe or feelings towards things, such as, “I love ice cream!” Or, “I love Disneyland!” Or “I love that outfit!” Can you really have a relationship with ice cream? It’s pretty one-sided if you do, and if you were to treat your friends like you treated ice cream you wouldn’t have any. Love, then, is only left in the relational aspect, as we have already mentioned.
To obey the Lord When the Scriptures exhort us to love one another we have to be in relationships with other believers. The church is the place for those relationships. So if you are attending a church, but don’t know the people you are attending with, you’re not obeying the command to love one another. You can’t love the person you’re sitting next to unless you have a relationship with them. This probably means stepping outside of your comfort zone—at least for me it does. I find it hard to get past the first word, but every time I have done so I have been able to maintain a good conversation. That initial fear can be paralyzing, but once you act the fear is then seen as irrational.
The first aspect that entered my mind, however, was not in relation to believers, but in relation to those who have not owned up for their guilt at the cross. People say that the most loving thing we can do to those who don’t believe is to share the gospel with them, but is it a truly loving act if it is outside of a genuine relationship? Perhaps we need to think more of having relationships with non-believers, and through showing our love to them in that relationship they might see that serving our God is a good thing, and then when we share the gospel they are ready to accept it. But the relationship is key to the act being loving! Look, then, for ways to build relationships with those who do not believe with the intention of bringing the gospel to them. That is love.
I realize that this last paragraph I just wrote could be taken further than I intended, and I believe though to make my point I had to come across as strongly as I did. I am not recommending we give up street evangelism, but I am suggesting that that method becomes less our focus as much as on building and starting relationships with the intention of bringing the Gospel to them, to show them Biblical love.