Would you be surprised to know that the Bible actually asks and answers that very question? From the quill of an almost 90-year-old apostle near the close of the first century, John rhetorically asks how can any of us really know how to love each other. Listen to how the Good News Translation version of the Bible phrases his answer.
“Dear friends, let us love one another, because love comes from God. And God showed his love for us by sending his only Son into the world, so that we might have life through him. This is what love is: It is not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the means by which our sins are forgiven. Dear friends, if this is how God loved us, then we should love one another” (1 John 4:7, 9-10 GNT).
Without meaning to be preachy, John shares two really important lessons about love. First, love comes from God. If I show any kind of love — compassionate, kind, enduring, faithful — it is because I am mimicking a sliver of the love of God in my life. If I want to demonstrate my love for someone else, I need to try to love them as God would love them.
Second, a relationship with God doesn’t depend on me first loving God. That is the kind of love we humans often share. I love you because you were first good to me. God shows us a love of another kind — he loved us when we were doing everything against him. And if we accept this love from him, he will forgive us for those times when we weren’t — and aren’t — very lovable.
Do you remember that bubble gum love song by Paul McCartney that is only heard on the oldies stations? Some people want to fill the world with silly love songs. The first silly love song I ever learned went like this: “Jesus loves me, this I know.”
And what’s wrong with that?
— Tom May is the Minister of Discipleship at Eastside Christian Church in Jeffersonville. He is an adjunct instructor in the Communications Department at Indiana University Southeast.