But The Greatest of These Is Love

1 Corinthians 13:13 says, “And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” Furthermore, John 4:8 says, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”  For the next few weeks, I will be reflecting on the fruits of the spirit, and the fruit of the spirit I reflected on this past week was love.  Moreover, this corresponded with my observations in The Fire Next Time, a book that seems to revolve around the interplay of love, power, and politics.  Several questions emerged as I reflected on love this week and as I also reflected on the book.  If the greatest of these is love, why does it feel like we treat love like the least of these (these being the systems and ideologies that govern our way of being)?  It’s as if we prioritize power and politics over love.  Additionally, in relation to John 4:8, there are many people that do know God but have not shown love.  We have allowed power and politics to dictate how we show love, to whom we show love, and when we show love.  Thus love has become a second thought to us.  This interplay of love, power, and politics is what James Baldwin works to understand, as a man who grew up in the church with a stepfather who was a pastor and later became a minister himself, in The Fire Next Time.  As I read, one specific quote stuck out to me.  The quote was “The struggle, therefore, that now begins in the world is extremely complex, involving the historical role of Christianity in the realm of power—that is, politics—and in the realm of morals.”  Too often power politics predominate society, and this includes the religious aspects of society.  We have focused more on the realm of power and politics than morals and love.  We have conformed to this world (Romans 12:2) where politics is concerned.  In one regard, we have associated politicians and political parties with the Kingdom of God and Christianity in a way that has allowed power politics to choke out love in a way God never intended.  (The Kingdom of God is one that inverts the very political systems of man and the political systems of this world.)  When society reaches a point where our desire for power is greater than our desire for love, then we as a society are in trouble.  Baldwin states of the Brown v. Board of Education decision, “Had it been a matter of love or justice, the 1954 decision would surely have occurred sooner; were it not for the realities of power in this difficult era, it might very well not have occurred yet.”  In this case, the realities of power seemingly worked in our favor; however, that is not always the case.  In 1994, the world watched as close to one million Rwandans were killed in an act of genocide.  Today, much of the world watches as Syrian men, women, and children continue to become victims of their own political regime in the worst humanitarian crisis of our time.  In times like these, we have allowed power and politics to frame our way of thinking rather than love.  Thus, the lives of others become merely political conversations and we lose sight of the humanity in it all.  The Black Eyed Peas were right to ask “Where is the Love?” in their 2003 song.  So, where is the love?  To answer this question, we must begin by seeking to show love rather than seeking power and prioritizing humanity over politics.

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